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Why automakers scramble to partner with Huawei?

Monika From Gasgoo| February 08 , 2021

Shanghai (Gasgoo)- Huawei, the global leading provider of ICT infrastructures and smart devices, is paving the way for its deployment of IoV (Internet of Vehicles) business. By virtue of the powerful technical supporting capability in communications field, the company endeavors to help clients rapidly develop IoV-related applications and make the use of wireless technologies easier.

Huawei smart car solution, Huawei OEM cooperation, China automotive news

Despite the rumors saying Huawei attempts to manufacture complete vehicles, the company repeatedly stresses its determination to be an incremental component provider for intelligent-connected vehicles (ICVs) instead of being a carmaker.

"Huawei will not make cars. Focusing on developing ICT technologies, Huawei will enable car manufacturers to build better smart vehicles,” the company reiterated in a document posted on Xingsheng Community, Huawei's official employee community platform, on Nov. 25, 2020.

The company announced official entry into the IoV field in 2013 when it set up the IoV business unit and launched the automotive module “ME909T”, starting offering OEMs Internet connected technologies.

From then on, the collaboration between Huawei and automakers was announced every year. The cooperative businesses were extended from network connectivity to car-mounted computing platform, autonomous driving and other ICV-related solutions.

For instance, in 2014, Huawei forged partnership with such OEMs as Dongfeng and Changan; in 2015, it teamed up with Volkswagen on the R&D of IoV applications; in 2016, the 5G Automotive Alliance was jointly formed by Huawei, Audi, BMW Group, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Intel; in 2017, the chipsets from Hisilicon, Huawei's subsidiary, was introduced into Mercedes-Benz and Audi's vehicles; in 2018, Huawei launched the Level 4 autonomous driving platform MDC600; in Jan. 2019, the company launched the 5G multi-mode chipset Balong 5000 that supports Vehicle to Everything (V2X) communications.

For the year of 2020, there were a slew of automakers joining Huawei's circle of friends. Most of them touted the usage of Huawei's technologies when they promoted new vehicle models.

On June 4, 2020 , BYD announced via its official WeChat account that it's heavyweight flagship model, the BYD Han, would be the world’s first mass-produced model equipped with Huawei 5G technology.

It is understood that Huawei's 5G-enabled HiCar technology is more like an interface with a car's core operating system than a car infotainment system. It first appeared on the BYD Han EVs that hit the market in last July and then will be introduced by about 30 different car brands. With the support of hardware configuration and Huawei's 5G technology, the conventional standalone automatic driving assistance functions have become connected smart driving on the Han EV.

Apart from the HiCar and 5G mobile modules, Huawei has also tapped many underlying technologies, like autonomous driving chips and in-car operating system, and developed such core parts as charging modules and LiDARs.

Huawei smart car solution, Huawei OEM cooperation, China automotive news

Huawei's automotive-grade factory-installed LiDAR making world's debut; photo credit: Huawei

On Dec. 22, 2020, Huawei officially launched its automotive-grade high-performance LiDAR with 96 beams, which is able to detect the pedestrians and vehicles in urban areas, and the vehicles running at high speed.

The newly-launched LiDAR solution would be first applied in the ARCFOX HBT, a high-performance EV model under BAIC BJEV’s ACRFOX, the premium EV brand announced on the same day.

Huawei smart car solution, Huawei OEM cooperation, China automotive news

Photo credit: Changan Auto

Changan Automobile's chairman Zhu Huarong revealed in last November the Chongqing-based automaker would join hands with Huawei and CATL to launch an upscale smart brand, demonstrating Huawei's significance to the cooperation.

In May, 2020, Huawei joined forces with 18 automakers, including FAW Group, Changan Automobile, Dongfeng Group, SAIC Group, to establish the “5G automotive ecosystem”, wishing to accelerate the commercialization of 5G technology in the automotive industry.

Automakers scramble to partner with Huawei primarily due to Huawei's technical advantages in fields like 5G, IoT (Internet of Things) and communications that deeply impress consumers.

The collaboration between Huawei and carmakers is carried out at three levels. On the side of ecosystem, mobile phones and automotive system are connected by Huawei's Harmony operating system (OS) and application framework. Vehicles are equipped with the HMS for Car, Huawei’s smart in-car cloud service solution, and the car-mounted smart screen powered by Harmony OS 2.0. As for incremental components, Huawei’s cost-competitive hardware parts related to 5G, radio frequency and electrification are well received by OEMs. At the level of platform, Huawei leverages its autonomous driving computing platform MDC (mobile data center) to make its sensors, controllers and algorithm deeply integrated with automotive systems.

Huawei is building a digital system based on the CCA+VehicleStack architecture, Cai Jianyong, CTO of Huawei's smart car unit, said in August 2020. He added the digital system can be regarded as a traditional car with a six-layer design, which translates into a mechanical layer, a high-voltage battery electrical layer, a low-voltage component layer, a software layer, an application layer, and a cloud service layer.

Sinolink Securities considered that Huawei's CCA+VehicleStack is designed to realize the upgrade and reuse of software in different vehicle models, and achieve scalable and changeable hardware as well as plug-and-play sensors. Under the architecture, Huawei endeavors to develop a trustworthy security system, which involves digital security, cybersecurity, functional safety and privacy security. It also allows consumers to buy more applications and services through automotive platform as same as via smart phones, so as to assist OEMs and developers with making sustainable profits.

The other factor accountable for automaker's decision to partner with Huawei is that Huawei's architecture is upending the existing highly customized business model in automotive industry.

Huawei intends to develop an innovative “1+8+N” product and software ecosystem which helps create a world where everything works together seamlessly, intelligently, and effortlessly, rather than developing the automotive as a standalone business.

According to the tech giant's introduction, the “1” represents the smartphone, which is the core to the ecosystem. The “8” refers to external/peripheral connected devices like PC, tablet, TV, audio, glasses, watches, locomotives, and headphones. The “N” layer embraces all the third-party IoT devices which can be connected to Huawei's HiLink and Huawei Share technologies. Under the strategy, Huawei is ambitious to build a comprehensive 5G service ecosystem that covers all livelihood scenarios.

In last September, Huawei launched the newest version of its Harmony OS, a Chinese alternative to Google's Android OS. The OS has been applied in Huawei's HiCar, a smart cockpit platform that enables drivers to control most automation functions in cabin via Huawei's smart phones.

Some industry insiders believe that the Harmony OS boasts promising development future in the IoV and autonomous driving fields as it forms interconnection between IoT and smart phone operating system. According to a study published by McKinsey & Company, China will likely emerge as the world's largest market for autonomous vehicles, worth more than $500 billion in revenue from sales of new autonomous vehicles and mobility services by 2030. As automakers are racing to deploy in the nascent technical areas, joining hands with Huawei might help them move faster on finding a toehold.

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