"The race is just getting started, and I think Xiaomi has plenty of opportunities," Lei Jun said.
Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi's move to build cars seems to have been met with skepticism recently, so much so that the man at the helm has begun defending the company's plans in a tweet.
"Tesla entered the EV industry more than 10 years ahead of us. Some people think that we already missed our window to enter the market, but I disagree," Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi, tweeted today.
"The race is just getting started, and I think Xiaomi has plenty of opportunities," Lei said.
Tesla entered the EV industry more than 10 years ahead of us. Some people think that we already missed our window to enter the market, but I disagree. The race is just getting started, and I think Xiaomi has plenty of opportunities. pic.twitter.com/h6aqMytZgG
— Lei Jun (@leijun) September 8, 2022
Lei is active on Weibo, Twitter's Chinese equivalent, with 22.76 million followers, and posts content almost daily.
Twitter is not his usual social media presence, where he has only 110,000 followers and typically posts content only once every few days.
Interestingly, Lei's ideas are only posted on Twitter, not on Weibo.
Xiaomi officially announced it was joining the car-making bandwagon on March 30 last year, saying its initial investment in the car business was RMB 10 billion ($1.54 billion), with an expected investment of $10 billion over the next 10 years.
At the end of November last year, Xiaomi signed a contract with the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area Management Committee to build a headquarters base for its auto business and its sales and R&D headquarters in Yizhuang, and will build a car factory with an annual production capacity of 300,000 units.
The plant will be built in two phases, with annual production capacity of 150,000 vehicles in the first and second phases, respectively, a government announcement at the time said, adding that Xiaomi's first car is expected to roll off the production line and achieve mass production in 2024.
But reports of Xiaomi's car-building plans hitting regulatory hurdles have surfaced several times in the past two months.
According to a July 29 Bloomberg report, Xiaomi's EV project is facing difficulties in gaining regulatory approval and has been discussing licensing issues with officials at the National Development and Reform Commission for months, but without success.
In a separate report on August 26, Bloomberg said Xiaomi was in talks with BAIC Group about partnering to produce EVs and was exploring different options, including Xiaomi buying a stake in the No. 2 Hyundai plant, which has the full license to produce cars in China.
In a subsequent report, local media Cailian said Xiaomi may take over BAIC's production site in Qingdao, Shandong province in eastern China.
On September 1, Sina Tech today cited two sources familiar with the matter as saying that Xiaomi will most likely not acquire BAIC's factory and has no intention of adopting an OEM production model, but will instead build its own factory.
Lei's tweet today included a photo of him with a vehicle used to test Xiaomi's self-driving technology, seemingly underscoring the company's ambitions in the self-driving space.
Xiaomi's self-driving technology is in the testing phase and aims to be in the top tier of the industry by 2024, Lei said at his annual personal presentation on August 11.