Huawei sets up new smart car unit as it accelerates automotive ambitions in wake of earlier deal with Changan

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The new company, named Shenzhen Yinwang Intelligent Technology, was set up on Tuesday with a registered capital of 1 billion yuan (US$140.3 million) and is wholly owned by Huawei, according to records on business registry information platform Tianyancha.

The records show that the new firm’s business covers smart car equipment manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI) system integration services, and AI software development, among other areas.

The development comes after Huawei signed a memorandum of cooperation in November with Changan Automobile, a major state-owned carmaker based in Chongqing, southwestern Sichuan province, to start a new smart car JV.

Under the partnership, Huawei said it plans to transfer its smart-car system business to a new unit with investments from Changan Automobile and “integrate the core technologies and resources of [Huawei’s] smart car solutions into the new company”.

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The new venture was set up by Huawei’s car unit to serve the industry better with its smart car solutions, according to a person familiar with the situation who declined to be named. Huawei declined to comment on the relationship between the new entity and its JV with Changan.

While Huawei currently holds 100 per cent of the new firm, it is open to more industry partners joining to become a technology platform with diversified equity, according to a report by Chinese media outlet Securities Times.

In November, Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group and chairman of its Intelligent Automotive Solution business unit, called on Chinese carmakers Seres Group, Chery Automobile, JAC Motors and BAIC Motor to take an equity stake in the Huawei-Changan JV.

All four of these companies – generally considered smaller carmakers in the country – currently partner with Huawei to develop and sell new brands under the so-called Huawei Select model, through which the smartphone giant collaborates closely with companies on everything from product design to sales. These brands include Aito with Seres and Luxeed with Chery.

At Changan’s global partnership conference on Tuesday, the automaker’s chairman Zhu Huarong revealed that Huawei had promised not to produce cars under their JV deal, which was sealed within three months of initiating discussions, according to a live-streamed video of the event.

Zhu also said that the two companies are in the process of discussing the details of their partnership and its establishment, which is tentatively named “Newcool” in English.

The Huawei-Changan JV will also be open to more firms, Zhu said, adding that it will focus on seven main businesses including intelligent automotive systems, smart cockpits and a digital platform.

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