Huawei turns to driverless cars, as no end of US sanctions in sight

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FILED - Resigning itself to the fact that the US is unlikely to ease its sanctions on Huawei, the Chinese tech giant is opening up a whole new business segment. Photo: Marius Becker/dpa Credit: Marius Becker/dpa
FILED - Resigning itself to the fact that the US is unlikely to ease its sanctions on Huawei, the Chinese tech giant is opening up a whole new business segment. Photo: Marius Becker/dpa

(dpa) – Resigning itself to the fact that the US is unlikely to ease the sanctions that have targeted Huawei’s smartphones and 5G hardware, the Chinese tech giant is now opening up a whole new business segment.

In light of the ongoing ban on Huawei using Google software and other technology from US companies, the company says it is increasing its focus on new business areas like self-driving cars.

This year alone it wants to invest more than 1 billion dollars into developing autonomous cars, Huawei CEO Eric Xu announced on Monday.

At the same time, Huawei was sticking to its 2018 decision not to build its own car, but to partner with selected manufacturers, he stressed.

So far, Huawei has made agreements with three Chinese companies that want to launch sub-brands with Huawei technology on board. A logo – “Huawei Inside” – will indicate that the jointly developed car contains autonomous driving technology from the technology group.

There will only be a few cooperations of this kind, Xu said. At the same time, the investment would be profitable for Huawei, even if it were to limit itself to the Chinese domestic market, where a good 30 million vehicles are being bought every year.

With regard to the US sanctions, Xu said Huawei’s strategy was designed to survive and grow regardless of Washington’s policies, which are not expected to change under the administration of President Joe Biden. Huawei believes it will remain blacklisted by the US government for a long time to come, Xu said.

In 2019, then president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Chinese smartphone provider and network equipment supplier and extended the measures to the chip sector last year.

As a result, Huawei lost access to important technology from the West, which instantly turned Western buyers off its new flagship phones, as they were no longer were able to use services like Gmail and Google Maps.

Since the company cannot sell new smartphones with Google services, sales of the devices outside China plummeted. Huawei responded to the chip blockade by stockpiling purchases, which experts say contributed to the current global semiconductor shortage. Eric Xu on Monday blamed US sanctions for the shortages.

US officials have long accused Huawei of working with the Chinese government and say users of Huawei technology are at risk of being monitored by Beijing. The company rejects the accusations.

While Biden has scrutinized Trump’s China policy, there has been no indication so far that the sanctions against Huawei could be lifted.

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