Author: Yi Wang
On March 8th, AITO Automobile released a new promotional poster.
The poster used the phrase “HUAWEI Questioning the World”, while “AITO” which had always been used before, disappeared. Subsequently, the Weibo post that released the image was also forwarded by Huawei’s official social media account.
Previously, a WeChat chat screenshot that seemed to be from inside AITO had quietly appeared on the internet. The chat content stated that AITO’s brand rhetoric would be changed from “Huawei’s deep empowerment” to “Huawei’s comprehensive leadership”. For a while, netizens sensed the “hidden changes” one after another.
As we all know, Huawei has always publicly stated that they do not make cars. However, after this poster incident, Huawei officially responded in a timely manner.
According to Huawei, their long-term deep cooperation relationship with Seres hasn’t changed. Whether it’s changing from “AITO Questioning the World” to “HUAWEI Questioning the World”, or “deep empowerment” to “comprehensive leadership”, it’s just to highlight that Huawei will deeply empower the AITO Questioning the World brand over the long term.
Although Huawei still reiterated that they do not make cars, the appearance of “HUAWEI Questioning the World” is actually equivalent to an official announcement of car-making.
At the same time, as another cooperative partner, Seres’ role has become more subtle. When Huawei stepped into the foreground, it meant that Seres could only bow to the background and become an “original equipment manufacturer”.
In June 2016, Seres was still called Xiaokang and had just embarked on the road to IPO. In 2018, the name SF entered the eyes of consumers and was later renamed “SERES”, which is pronounced “Se-li-si” in Chinese.
In 2019, Seres’ first electric car, the SF5, was officially launched on the market, with actual delivery taking place in July of the following year. However, the SF5’s performance was not ideal, with sales of fewer than 800 vehicles in the whole year of 2020.
The bleak performance reflects the poor operational status of the entire Xiaokang Stock Co. Ltd., and the company’s stock price has also fallen to a single-digit number at one point. Fortunately, in November 2020, the turning point arrived.
This turning point is the cooperation with Huawei. With Huawei’s technological support, channel power, and brand recognition, Xiaokang Stock Co. Ltd. is like a breath of fresh air. In the following short seven or eight months, Xiaokang’s stock price soared from RMB 8.47 to RMB 83.83, an increase of almost 9 times.Since the launch of the first electric car “Seraphim Huawei Select SF5” in April 2021, AITO Qingjie series cars M5, M7 and M5 pure electric version have also been launched one after another.
In July 2022, Xiaokang Group officially changed its name to Seraphim. This renaming move shows Xiaokang’s commitment to cooperation with Huawei and new energy vehicles. At the Seraphim renaming media briefing, Zhang Xinghai, chairman of Xiaokang, expressed his strong determination to continue cross-border cooperation with Huawei.
However, the cooperation between Huawei and Seraphim seems to be somewhat incompatible in the eyes of outsiders. Huawei’s core technology, funding, and channels are all that Seraphim wants to rely on, and the olive branch thrown out by Huawei is not only for Seraphim.
It seems that Seraphim’s positioning in the cooperation is similar to that of an OEM factory. Of course, for the lonely Seraphim car company, this is not without any benefits. Compared with those edge car companies that have not kept up with the times and died, Seraphim has at least grasped Huawei’s straw and survived.
Like Seraphim, Jianghuai, Chery, and other car companies also hope to catch up with Huawei’s fast train. Once they lose their appeal in the end market, they can only be resigned to OEMs. At the end of the OEM, Foxconn is the ultimate goal. The problem is, Foxconn seems to be aware of its hidden value.
In Foxconn, a well-known typical OEM company, it has not forgotten to invest in the new energy vehicle field. In just one year, Foxconn has launched 5 models in succession, which can be described as coming fiercely.
Although it is an OEM giant, Liu Yangwei, Chairman of Hon Hai Precision Group, Foxconn’s parent company, once said that “Foxconn hopes to become the Android of electric vehicles.” However, whether it is to do automotive OEMs or to strive to become the Android of the electric vehicle field, it is not a matter of just talking. Foxconn needs a more complete industrial chain and technology reserve. Having embarked on this path, Foxconn has no room for turning back.
For Seraphim, Foxconn, which has entered the electric vehicle field, seems to be a mirror.
Although Seraphim has publicly stated that it is not an OEM factory, in fact, Seraphim is responsible for research and development, manufacturing, delivery, service, and creating a user experience for the entire life cycle in cooperation, while Huawei is responsible for deep participation in the smart selection mode, quality control, and channel sales. These cannot hide the reality that Seraphim will gradually become Huawei’s OEM factory.# AITO is gone, HUAWEI is here
This is a signal. However, it is not surprising that the current situation is the result of a cooperation that has had a significant imbalance of power from the beginning. CELISUS was once in dire straits due to its cooperation with Huawei, but it also learned a lesson from this cooperation.
That is, making cars cannot rely on others, and excessive reliance can only lead to the situation where the frog is boiled in warm water. Even if one foresees their own ending, they are already powerless to change it.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.