FILED - Chinese smartphone manufacturer says it's pouring 10 billion dollars into a new car unit headed by 51-year-old Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun. (archive photo) Photo: Niu Bo/Imaginechina via ZUMA Press/dpa
FILED - Chinese smartphone manufacturer says it's pouring 10 billion dollars into a new car unit headed by 51-year-old Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun. (archive photo) Photo: Niu Bo/Imaginechina via ZUMA Press/dpa

(dpa) – In the latest blurring of boundaries between smartphones and cars, Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has announced it’s gearing up to enter the car business just like its tech industry rivals at Apple and Google.

On the sidelines of an online event unveiling new smartphones, the smartphone manufacturer announced that it will be investing the equivalent of 10 billion US dollars in the start-up phase of a programme to develop intelligent electric vehicles.

“Xiaomi hopes to offer quality smart electric vehicles to let everyone in the world enjoy smart living anytime, anywhere,” said the company release. No further details were given.

The new car unit is headed by 51-year-old Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun, who is arguably one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in China’s tech world.

Xiaomi increasingly established itself as a leading brand for smartphone and smart appliance brand in Western countries in recent years. The company’s expansion into the automotive sector follows similar steps taken by other tech giants in China and beyond.

Google’s offshoot Waymo is currently one of the leading developers of autonomous driving and Apple boss Tim Cook, 60, recently stepped up plans for an Apple Car under the project name “Titan.”

In January, Chinese search giant Baidu revealed that it would develop an electric car through a partnership with domestic carmaker and Daimler investor Geely. Chinese smartphone giant Huawei is also in talks with state-owned manufacturers about making cars.

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