Xiaomi launched its first crowdfunding campaign for cars

The car is equipped with Xiaomi’s AI assistant.

Photo:Shutterstock.com

Xiaomi Youpin, an e-commerce site under Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to gather supporters for a car model called Bestune T77.

The campaign went live Thursday morning in China and by the evening, 107 individuals have supported Bestune T77, which is to be built by auto brand Bestune, part of China FAW Group. Each supporter pledged a RMB 3,777 (USD 550) deposit.

A Chinese car information portal shows that the full price for this model lies between RMB 124,800 and RMB 135,800.

The car will be equipped with Xiaomi’s AI assistant Xiao’ai Tongxue to facilitate voice communication between the driver and the car. Xiao’ai Tongxue is now mostly available in Xiaomi’s smart speakers.

The supporters of the crowdfunding campaign are promised that they can pick up their cars in bricks-and-mortar stores near them starting August 30.

This is the first car sale from Xiaomi Youpin as it just added car sale into its business scope last week. Although the initial crowdfunding plan only set itself a target of gaining 100 supporters, it will continue to be online for another 11 days.

Crowdfunding is sometimes used as a way to gauge market interest before mass producing a product.

The information disclosed along with the crowdfunding plan says that Bestune has a plan to mass produce this model in July.

Xiaomi is not the only Chinese tech company that wants a presence in the car market.

Alibaba A.I. Labs, Alibaba’s AI research division, says it has formed partnerships with Audi, Renault, and Honda to integrate Tmall Genie Auto, an artificial intelligence solution, into some models of their “internet cars.”

Owners of such cars aided by Tmall Genie Auto will have access to a variety of voice-controlled information and services, including identifying nearby attractions and restaurants, booking movie tickets, checking the status of package deliveries, having children’s books read out loud, and ordering items on Alibaba’s retail platform.