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SU7, the Xiaomi electric car

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SU7, the Xiaomi electric car

You expect a smartphone and instead you find an EV. This is the surprise that Xiaomi reserved for the many curious people who came to visit its stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: a high-performance electric sedan developed from scratch in just three years and already almost ready to debut on the Chinese market. Of course, there were also the new 14 series smartphones developed with the German photography icon Leica, a new tablet and three wearables, but the SU7 (this is the name of the EV) stole the show a bit from the rest.

There are all the reasons: Xiaomi, which in itself is just 13 years old, has invested 10 billion Yuan (just under one billion and 300 million euros) and involved over 3,400 engineers to design and build a ‘car with premium characteristics, developing in-house the technological solutions, the components and – in the case of the chassis – even the necessary materials. Not something you see every day, although we will have to wait for the first test drives to understand with what results Xiaomi debuts as an automotive manufacturer.

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A surprise, but not too much

The presentation of the SU7 is only partly a surprise: firstly because the electrification of mobility has made the access of new players to the automotive industry relatively easier, given that electric vehicles (EV) are less complex to develop than traditional cars with their complex internal combustion engines, the result of decades of investments, research and development. And then because, in the era in which the car has become a hi-tech and software-driven platform, the technology giants are almost obliged to have their say in this sector.

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Apple wanted to do it, but after ten years of R&D it seems to have given up. Huawei is doing it, which in its second life (after the vetoes of the US government which ousted it from the international smartphone market), has entered the automotive industry as a supplier of software and technology linked to active and passive safety systems and autonomous driving. Sony is preparing to do so, which has presented EV prototypes at CES in Las Vegas since 2020, and in 2022 founded the Sony Honda Mobility joint venture with Honda to produce electric cars under the Afeela brand. And Xiaomi does it, which compared to the competition has a car that is practically ready, and can count on a national ecosystem for the production of electric cars that is more complete, mature and efficient than elsewhere.

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On paper, top performance

When talking about cars it is obligatory to reel off numbers, and those of the SU7 seem very respectable: the version shown in Barcelona is the Max, i.e. the top of the range for this segment (the same as the BMW 5 series), which for all-wheel drive The front features the HyperEngine V6, while the rear features the HyperEngine V6s. Together with the HyperEngine V8s (which we will see on cars from 2025) they are all engines developed entirely by the same Chinese giant. Maximum power (in boost mode) is 673PS and 830Nm, which push the car from 0 to 100 in 2.78 seconds. For comparison, the Audi RS e-tron GT uses 3.3.

The maximum speed is 265 km/h while the 101 kW/h battery (also developed by Xiaomi and produced by CATL) should guarantee up to 800 km of autonomy in the CLTC cycle (but we are curious to see how it will fare in the world real). No indications have been provided on the maximum charging power, but we know that the system is 800 volts (which places it in the premium vehicle range) and that 5 minutes of charging recover 220 kilometers of autonomy, while 15 minutes give you a good amount of autonomy. 510.

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The shapes are soft and also very European, so much so that the SU7 reminded many of the Porsche Tycan (to this writer, however, it reminds more of the Audi RS e-tron GT): the car is almost five meters long (4,997 mm ) with a wheelbase of three, while it is 1,963 mm wide and 1,440 mm high, which contributes to good aerodynamics with a Cd of just 0.195.

Software at the centre

The “smart cabin”, or the intelligent interior of the SU7, revolves around the new HyperOS operating system, which Xiaomi has placed at the center of its large ecosystem: smartphones, tablets, wearables, IoT devices, household appliances. The “Human x Car x Home” strategy involves a single software platform that connects and makes everything communicate, simplifying interaction also thanks to the use of artificial intelligence which learns from the user’s habits and anticipates their needs in the car , at home or when holding your smartphone.

We saw it from a distance and with the doors closed, but at first glance the dashboard highlights very essential lines on which the 3K 16.1″ infotainment screen stands out: Xiaomi explains that it can be used in touch-only mode, or by pressing physical buttons, arranged on a small accessory that can be easily mounted or removed in the lower part of the display. There are also several physical buttons on the dashboard, which highlights a construction philosophy opposite to that adopted by Tesla, a reference company for the EV market. The 56-inch HUD head-up display also deserves mention, as does the fact that the entire smart cabin system runs thanks to the Snapdragon 8295 hardware platform, created by Qualcomm specifically for the automotive sector.

Autonomous driving and generative AI

Xiaomi has developed three key technologies for intelligent driving: Adaptive BEV technology, Super-Res Occupancy Network technology and the foundational model for Road-Mapping. These technologies are applied to functions such as Xiaomi Pilot or automated parking. In particular, the Road-Mapping Foundational Model – the first of its kind in the industry – uses generative artificial intelligence to create a real-time road topology comparable to that of high-definition maps, which it then uses to respond to changes in the road in real time.

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On the hardware side, the system uses two Nvidia Orin-X chips that process data from a lidar, three millimeter wave radars, 11 HD cameras and 12 ultrasonic radars in real time. Xiaomi Pilot includes highway driving, autonomous parking and “auto summoning” functions, with which it is possible to independently get the car out of a parking lot.

Industrial innovation

Finally, it is worth noting that, in addition to the production of motors and batteries, Xiaomi is investing heavily to innovate both in large-scale die-casting processes (with the Hyper Die-Casting T9100 system) and in the development of new materials more resistant and lighter like Titan Metal.

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