EV maker Nio is now venturing into China’s competitive smartphone market and preparing to make its own handsets, at a time when tech giants are developing multiple lines of business to add new revenue streams.
The company has formed a smartphone division in Shenzhen and is hiring staff to expand the team, according to 36Kr. Yin Shujun, the former CEO of selfie app Meitu’s discontinued smartphone line, is leading the division.
Open job listings show that Nio is recruiting specialists in communications testing, graphics processing unit (GPU) design, and other smartphone-related technical fields. The company has already hired over 100 people since the beginning of the year, and will add more than 200 positions in the following months, Chinese media outlet Securities Times reported.
Nio will likely establish its own assembly lines for its smartphones, which will link up with its vehicles for shared functionality, according to Securities Times.
The company has not indicated when it will release its first phone.
Nio is not the only car company that has entered the smartphone business to seek a new source of growth. In September 2021, Geely, an automaker and the owner of Volvo, announced that it will develop premium smartphones. The company said it aims to release its first handset by 2023 and sell 3 million units in the first year.
Moving in the other direction, several popular smartphone brands have made moves to design and build their own EVs. In March 2021, Xiaomi announced it would invest USD 10 billion in the following ten years to develop its own electric vehicle.
In November, local authorities said Xiaomi plans to construct a manufacturing plant that can produce 300,000 vehicles annually in Beijing.
Over in Taiwan, the founder of iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, Terry Gou, said during his company’s internal meetings that the firm will build white-label cars, likening EVs to “iPhones with four wheels.”
And in the United States, industry watchers anticipate that Apple will develop its own fully autonomous car. The company is reportedly working with a South Korean firm to develop and test a semiconductor for automobiles, according to Korean media outlet TheElec, while Taiwan-based TSMC is expected to manufacture the chip.