The Chinese Giant, Huawei’s loss of Google and it’s underlying services has forced them down the path of Apple, an leading device manufacturer with its own app ecosystem, mobile services framework and OS. In the absence of Google play store, Huawei will rather be like Apple with it’s own end-to-end, closed, secure ecosystem as a way of staying in the market and in competition.
Huawei will not be making cars—despite its chairman Eric Xu allegedly saying back in January that “if Tesla can do it now, we can all do it.” The company has no such plans. In its view, there’s no point, with some 70% of next-generation cars being more smart devices than mechanics. The value, the company believes, is in the electronics not the trains. And this is the remit of its Intelligent Automotive Solution (IAS) business unit, to leverage investments in AI and 5G, utilizing new chipsets and OS innovation to provide a 70% bolt-on to car-making OEMs.
“Huawei has set an internal goal of becoming the leading Chinese platform provider for self-driving vehicles by 2025,” the Nikkei Asian Review reported in March, citing industry sources. “Huawei’s attitude toward autonomous driving has turned very aggressive,” one of those sources said. “We have been asked to prepare a lot of tests [this year] even if the industry is under coronavirus threats.”
Back in October, headlines suggested Huawei was developing plans, helping China keep pace with innovative manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. Those plans are now firming up. “We have worked extensively with 18 leading automakers and integrators on autonomous driving and applications for other related domains,” the company said in its last annual report. “The ongoing integration of cars with ICT is transforming our very concept of vehicles, with ICT gradually overtaking the importance of purely mechanical systems.”
Huawei’s automotive play brings together five separate dimensions from across its wider business: New AI chips that can connect multiple sensors and power the algorithms that make autonomous driving a reality; a smart cockpit designed as an extension of its HarmonyOS cross-platform user experience; power management leveraging its rarely discussed investments in that field; and then its “internet of vehicles” and “vehicle cloud services” to bring it all together.