Chinese manufacturer NIO wants to make cell phones to accompany its cars

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After launching the ET7 sedan, NIO is considering making cell phones to meet the demand of users interested in technology. CEO William Li told Chinese news agency Sina that owners want smartphones that better connect to the brand’s vehicles. Hence, the need to build an ecosystem of products and services along the lines of what Apple does — although he admits that, in principle, the idea is not to compete with the big cell phone manufacturers.

“Making a phone is easy, but making a good phone is a challenge,” said Li, who sees the cell phone as a utility vehicle connected to the car.

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Also according to the executive, the project is in the development phase, therefore, it does not yet have a release date.

NIO, in particular, is experiencing a moment of expectation after almost break at the beginning of the decade. This year, according to the Credit Suisse bank, its annual sales volume should reach 150,000 units. It is also expected that, by December, in addition to the ET7 and ET5 sedans, the manufacturer will produce four electric SUVs: the ES8, ES6, EC6 and another unnamed one.

NIO also expects to double its production capacity at its Hefei plant in eastern China to 240,000 units. With extra production shifts, it is still possible to reach 300,000 cars a year, according to the automaker, which is preparing to launch a second factory in the city.

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Cell phone companies in the automotive industry

NIO and Faraday Future, which is also thinking of producing cell phones, are the only automakers so far that have wanted to enter the telecommunications industry. The reverse movement, however, became a trend.

Starting with Apple and its Apple Car, cell phone companies want to go beyond tablets and laptops when it comes to building peripherals for their products. It makes sense, after all, for them to produce automobiles, given the fact that the latter are increasingly saturated with IoT sensors and smart technology — by 2030, software will also occupy nearly 90% of in-car innovations, according to IBM forecasts.

Sony recently announced an electric car with LiDAR and 5G connectivity, while Apple electronics maker Foxconn unveiled three prototype electric vehicles: a sedan, an SUV and a bus.

The only concrete example of this in history, however, is Samsung, which came to design and build cars in the late 1990s. The division closed shortly after the start of operations due to the asian tiger crisis and was bought by Renault in 2000. The French automaker even sold some of the models designed by Samsung under the name Renault-Samsung, such as the SM5 utility vehicle.

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