Xiaomi Enters Electric Vehicle Market With US$10 Billion Commitment
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Xiaomi Enters Electric Vehicle Market With US$10 Billion Commitment

Chinese smartphone giant joins crowded but burgeoning automobile market.

By Dan Strumpf
Wed, Mar 31, 2021 5:55pmGrey Clock 2 min

HONG KONG—Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi Corp. became the latest tech company to launch a foray into China’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, pledging $10 billion over the next decade to the effort.

Xiaomi Chief Executive Lei Jun will lead the new stand-alone subsidiary focused on electric vehicles, the company said Tuesday. It will spend an initial 10 billion yuan, equivalent to about $1.5 billion, to launch the new company, expanding its investment in the coming years.

Xiaomi’s entrance into electric vehicles makes it one of China’s most high-profile tech companies to date to join the increasingly crowded market for such automobiles. Xiaomi’s status as a popular consumer brand with a rapidly expanding global footprint, could give it an edge over its many rivals, though new entrants into the car market face significant hurdles.

Mr Lei appeared late Tuesday before a cheering theatre of spectators in Beijing following the announcement. He told the audience that he had deliberated for months with the company’s board about whether Xiaomi should enter the electric vehicle market. He said he ultimately decided that the company’s deep cash cushion gave him the confidence to move forward.

“We have accumulated a lot of wisdom and experience and it’s time for us to try the waters,” Mr. Lei said.

Mr Lei offered scant details on how or when any Xiaomi vehicle would come to market, and didn’t disclose whether it had enlisted an outside manufacturer for the effort. Last week, Chinese car maker Great Wall Motor denied a report that it was working with Xiaomi on electric vehicles.

China is the world’s largest electric vehicle market, and Xiaomi joins a crowded field of companies looking to compete in the business. Sales of electric vehicles have been booming since industry champion Tesla Inc. began building its high-end cars in Shanghai in late 2019. Domestic rivals include NIO Inc.—whose soaring stock has made it one of the world’s most valuable auto makers—as well as Li Auto Inc. and Xpeng Inc.

In January, search-engine giant Baidu Inc. disclosed that it was entering the electric vehicle market with partner Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. Apple Inc. has been seeking partners to build electric vehicles since late last year, though talks to do so with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group broke down in February.

Xiaomi is betting that its entry into electric vehicles will build on its resurgent success in smartphones. In the fourth quarter, the company became the world’s third-largest smartphone maker behind Apple and Samsung Electronics Co., occupying that spot for the first time ever. Booming sales in China, India and Western Europe have fueled its rise, while troubles at its Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co. have sent customers flocking to its cut-rate devices.

The details of Xiaomi’s electric-vehicle effort came toward the close of a roughly two-hour new product launch hosted by Mr Lei in Beijing on Tuesday. In addition to smartphones, Xiaomi sells an array of consumer devices, and Mr Lei spent most of the event revealing a grab bag of new gadgets, including an internet-connected air conditioning unit, a home humidifier and a new laptop.

Only at the very end did Mr Lei discuss Xiaomi’s electric-vehicle plans. As an image of Mr Lei with his arm around Tesla CEO Elon Musk flashed behind him, the Chinese CEO said he had been a Tesla owner since 2013, and long had an interest in the technology.

“I hope that one day there will be a Xiaomi car on each and every street,” he said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: March 30, 2021



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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”