Huawei Technologies sells Aito electric vehicle trademark to partner for US$350 million

Huawei Technologies is selling the trademark of electric vehicle (EV) brand Aito to its Chinese carmaking partner Seres, as the Shenzhen-based technology giant moves to enhance its role as a systems and know-how supplier for autos instead of a competitor.

Seres, which co-developed the brand with Huawei, said it will pay 2.5 billion yuan (US$343 million) for the trademark and patents of Aito, with the transaction expected to be completed by the end of 2024, according to a filing by the Shanghai-listed carmaker on Wednesday. Seres said the deal will not affect its collaboration with Huawei and that both companies will further deepen their partnership.

“Huawei will transfer the Aito trademark to Seres and in the meantime continue to support Seres in building and selling Aito cars,” Huawei said in a statement on Wednesday, reiterating its stance that it will not build cars itself.

The transfer of the brand name comes as Huawei moves to distance itself from auto manufacturing and enhance its role as a supplier and platform operator in the EV industry.

An Aito electric car on display in a Huawei store in Shanghai. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Aito marked one of Huawei’s major forays into the carmaking industry when it was launched in 2021, as the US sanctioned tech giant looked for new revenue drivers after trade restrictions hobbled its once lucrative smartphone business.

Before the launch of Aito, Seres operated as a subsidiary of Shanghai-listed Chongqing Sokon Industry Group and was a little-known name in China’s car industry. Huawei appeared to be in the driver’s seat for the Aito collaboration, as it touted its deep involvement in the development and design process, unveiled new models at its own product launches, and sold the cars via its extensive network of retail stores across China.

Huawei’s status as a household name also helped Aito become one of the fastest growing EV brands in China. In early 2023, some retail stores marketed the cars under the name of Huawei Aito, stirring speculation about Huawei’s ambitions to build its own cars, before it backed off and reaffirmed its role as a supplier to the EV industry.

In November, Huawei announced a plan to set up a joint venture with Changan Automobile, a major state-owned carmaker based in the southwestern city of Chongqing, to focus on smart-vehicle systems and components. Huawei invited Seres to take equity in the new venture, and the two were in active discussions, the companies said at the time.

Huawei’s latest move also comes amid cutthroat competition in China’s EV market, which is locked in a discount war as new players enter, such as smartphone vendor Xiaomi.

China’s top three premium EV makers, Li Auto, Xpeng and Nio, all reported rapid growth in June sales, thanks to discounts and incentives. Seres reported sales of 44,126 units for June, up from 34,130 in the previous month.



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