Sorry, Apple Car hopefuls – Xiaomi's on track to win the electric car race

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun speaking at a conference
(Image credit: Shutterstock / zhangjin_net)

Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi has reaffirmed its commitment to bringing an electric car to market as soon as 2024.

The company announced its move into automotive manufacturing in 2021, but eyebrows were raised at the mere three-year window internally assigned to complete the so-called Xiaomi Car project. 

In 2022, though, Xiaomi claims its projected 2024 release date remains accurate, adding that it currently has more than 1,000 people working on the swift development of the electric vehicle (EV). 

As GizChina reports, Xiaomi is also on track to present a prototype model of its car in the third quarter of 2022 – meaning we could see it in the flesh as early as July – after the CEO of the company's Beijing branch revealed there had been a "breakthrough" in its development. 

Naturally, no concrete details about the Xiaomi Car are public knowledge at this stage. Per GizChina, the company has alluded to pricing the vehicle between 100,000 and 300,000 Chinese yuan (around $16,000 to $47,000), and hinted that it could be an SUV – but neither feature should be taken as gospel prior to official confirmation. 

Xiaomi isn't the only tech firm weighing into the automotive space, though its ambitious 2024 target could mean the Xiaomi Car is the first of its kind to hit the road. 

Consider the Apple Car project (codenamed Project Titan), which seemingly lies dormant as it undergoes a regime change. Apple insiders recently revealed that the company has set an internal release target of 2025 for its coveted vehicular debut, but a revolving door of employees working on its development appears to be hampering progress. 

Former Apple Car software engineering manager Joe Bass, for instance, was poached by Silicon Valley rival Meta at the turn of the year, while Apple has since hired ex-Tesla executive Christopher Moore to make headway on the potentially autonomous EV. 

Apple Car concept

Like the Xiaomi Car, the Apple Car is almost certain to be electric (Image credit: max.ku / shutterstock)

In any case, Apple's internal 2025 release target remains ambitious, and seasoned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed that a 2028 (or later) launch is more likely, given the ongoing impasse in partnership negotiations (which you can read more about here).

We know that Sony, too, is developing its own EV. The gaming behemoth lifted the lid on the smart-looking Vision-S 01 sedan at CES 2021, followed 12 months later by the Vision-S 02 SUV. It's even got Honda on board to build its EVs – but again, the first consumer vehicle isn't expected until 2025.

It's highly likely, then, that Xiaomi's electric car could be the first successful four-wheeled project from a tech brand-turned-car maker, especially given the company's continued faith in its 2024 arrival. 

An unfair comparison 

Of course, the type of cars being developed by Xiaomi, Sony and Apple differ dramatically, and so praising the former for its speedier rate of development is a touch unfair. 

Judging by what we know so far, the Xiaomi Car will hit the market as a relatively affordable, battery-powered vehicle, of the sort we've seen in China for some time. The novelty, of course, will be that it comes from Xiaomi – but it doesn't look likely to rock the boat from an industry standpoint. 

The Apple Car, however, is a different beast entirely. Sure, like the Xiaomi Car, it's set to be electric, but going by reports we've heard over the past year, Apple is also hoping its vehicular debut is fully autonomous

That means, by necessity, development on its Apple Car is running at a slower pace than Xiaomi's equivalent, since the two mobile giants are offering two very different on-road products (we don't even know if the Apple Car will have four wheels...).

Still, Xiaomi's ambitions for a 2024 release have us optimistic that mobile companies can become car-makers, after all.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.