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Huawei has launched a new electric vehicle (EV) that is designed to take on Elon Musk’s Tesla.
The Chinese tech giant began taking preorders of the Luxeed S7, its first sedan, on Thursday. Previously, it had sold SUVs.
The car, which has developed with Chinese automaker Chery, has a starting price of 258,000 yuan ($35,400) during the presales period. Regular sales will begin on November 28, the company said at a press conference on Thursday.
Richard Yu, the company’s consumer chief, unveiled the sleek four-wheeler onstage in the megacity of Shenzhen, saying it was equipped with a powerful high-voltage battery pack. He has previously said the S7 would surpass Tesla’s (TSLA) Model S “in every specification.”
The comparison may be a bit of a stretch, says Mark Rainford, an automotive industry commentator based in Shanghai who hosts the YouTube channel “Inside China Auto.”
“In all honesty, I think comparisons with the Model S may be a bit ambitious on most metrics that I can find information for,” he told CNN, noting that some performance metrics had not been fully released.
“Where the S7 does stand out though is the 800-volt platform, which should enable very fast charging. Tesla [doesn’t] yet use an 800-volt platform, so the S7 will have an edge in this area,” Rainford said.
The S7’s 800-volt battery pack, the thinnest in the industry according to Yu, is made by Chinese EV battery giant CATL.
A 15-minute charge will yield a driving range of 400 kilometers (249 miles), according to Yu, which surpasses the 347-kilometer range (about 216 miles) for Tesla’s Model S after a similar charging period.
“Our range exceeds the level of our peers,” he added.
The US automaker, which no longer maintains a public relations team, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rainford said while the range comparison had not been tested, it was possible due to the battery.
Tesla may have an advantage because of its strong Supercharger network in China, which has many stations, he said.
“Ease of finding a good charger … is of as much importance as its ability,” Rainford said.
However, at the equivalent of $35,400, the S7 is much cheaper than the most basic Model S, which costs 698,900 yuan or $95,800 in China.
Tesla has been forced to slash prices in China recently in response to rising competition in the world’s biggest auto market.
Although Huawei first made its name as a tech and telecoms giant, it has been hobbled in recent years by US export restrictions, which sent the company into a tailspin.
This year, it has made no secret of its ambition to make a comeback — and create a splash in the car world. It launched its first EV in 2021.
At a September event, the company teased the release of the S7 as well as the Aito M9, an electric SUV developed with another Chinese automaker, Seres.
Yu said at the launch event that an upgraded version of the Aito M7, which was first released last year, had received more than 86,000 preorders in just 50 days.
The S7 caters to female consumers — with a designated cosmetics drawer, mirror for touching up makeup and a place to stash away high heels when they’re ditched in favor of flat shoes for driving — according to Huawei.