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Huawei well set to jazz up connected vehicles

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-21 10:58
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People walk past a Huawei logo in front of its store at a shopping complex in Beijing on July 14, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

As automobiles are set to get increasingly smarter, Huawei Technologies Co is partnering with more carmakers to deliver internet-connected automotive experience to consumers despite the US government restrictions it faces.

In August, Volvo unveiled the S90, its latest car model, carrying Huawei's HiCar system, which is based on the latter's self-developed HarmonyOS.

The HiCar system is an in-car smart interactive system that allows drivers to connect their cars with their smartphones and offers a string of services, including intelligent voice assistance and map navigation.

Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, said at the S90 launch that the HiCar system will be installed on more Volvo car models. "We aim to bring millions of smartphone apps to Volvo's car models in the future."

But Volvo is not the first carmaker to make use of the HiCar system. That record went to Chinese automobile maker BYD in July. According to Yu, compared to Apple's CarPlay system, Huawei's HiCar solution can support more apps.

The Shenzhen, Guangdong-based company said last September that its 5G-based HiCar partnership ecosystem includes more than 30 enterprises, including Audi, BYD, GAC and BAIC.

Huawei has been seeking to offer smart solutions to carmakers. The world's largest telecom equipment maker has repeatedly underlined that it has no intention of making cars, and its aim is to help automobile companies make better cars by leveraging its research and development prowess in information, communication and technology.

Xu Zhijun, rotating chairman of Huawei, said earlier the company offers technological solutions to help connect cars with services and products such as the cloud for autonomous driving, 4G/5G in-vehicle communication modules, and Huawei HiCar people-car-home connectivity solutions.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, Huawei established a smart-car solutions business unit last May. The division offers end-to-end smart mobility solutions for cars.

Huawei has also patented a list of autonomous driving technologies this year. In May, its autonomous driving system was awarded the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level D, the first Chinese company to receive the certification.

Guosen Securities said in a research note that since Huawei's main businesses like smartphones and telecom equipment are relatively mature, expanding its presence into internet-connected automobile market can help it to find a new stream of revenue.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said there is big room for the development of smart cars in the 5G era. Huawei can offer a slew of technological solutions and services covering both hardware and software.

Analysts said Huawei's years of research in telecommunications, especially 5G, would give it a head start over competition. After all, it is impossible to have fully autonomous vehicles without 5G, which is essential in enabling superfast internet speeds and real-time data analysis.

The latest update of global standards in 5G technologies in July is expected to accelerate the development of smart connected cars, said Xu Xiaodong, chief telecom expert at China Mobile.

The market size of the global connected-car industry is projected to reach $166 billion by 2025, from an estimated $53.9 billion in 2020, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets (M&M), a research company.

It will be influenced by factors like the increasing trend of in-vehicle connectivity solutions and government initiatives for the development of intelligent transportation systems, M&M said.

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