Auto Industry

Cars on call

Why are Chinese carmakers moving to make phones?


A Geely factory: set to branch out from cars to smartphones

Porsche Design celebrated its 50th anniversary in January. Starting with watches and car-related accessories, the German studio now offers all sorts of products, including smartphones. For instance, it has collaborated with Huawei since 2016 in launching the Porsche Design Huawei Mate Series.

Chinese carmakers have tried to introduce their own smartphone brands as well. They are not offering them as collectors’ items but aiming at mass production as the smartphone and car markets start to converge.

Geely was first, announcing in September last year that it will develop its own premium-positioned smartphones. The Chinese owner of Volvo said it wants to sell three million of its own handsets in 2023. In January, there were also reports that it is planning to buy smartphone maker Meizu Technology.

Slightly newer to the game is NIO. According to, the electric vehicle (EV) specialist has set up a handset division in Shenzhen, hiring more than 100 senior technicians since the beginning of the year. It has plans to fill more than 200 further positions in the coming months as well.

The arrival of the carmakers in a congested market for smartphones comes at a time when phone brands such as Xiaomi have announced plans to move in the opposite direction into the EV market.

Both camps have queried how the other is going to be capable of moving into new areas, Securities Times says, but neither the carmakers nor the handset firms can risk doing nothing as the internet of things (IoT) market takes shape, connecting a huge trove of data across different devices, including phones and electric cars.

© ChinTell Ltd. All rights reserved.

Sponsored by HSBC.

The Week in China website and the weekly magazine publications are owned and maintained by ChinTell Limited, Hong Kong. Neither HSBC nor any member of the HSBC group of companies ("HSBC") endorses the contents and/or is involved in selecting, creating or editing the contents of the Week in China website or the Week in China magazine. The views expressed in these publications are solely the views of ChinTell Limited and do not necessarily reflect the views or investment ideas of HSBC. No responsibility will therefore be assumed by HSBC for the contents of these publications or for the errors or omissions therein.