Would you buy a Chinese electric car?

In 5 years or 10 years at the latest, the vehicle industry will no longer be what we know it to be. Chinese electric cars will play a big role. Internet giants are selling mobility and hardware under their own name, and manufacturers of smartphones are also warming up. This will have an impact on users who are on the move with a digital device. Because the side effects and risks could be significant. One should ask the question of whether one would buy a Chinese electric car or at least use it. Because harmless and without monitoring in the background, that is clear, there is another way.

Truck designed by Pininfarina with Baidu Apollo platform for autonomous driving
Truck designed by Pininfarina with Baidu Apollo platform for autonomous driving

The internet giants are coming

The Chinese search engine is right at the front Baidu. Baidu is a giant and one of the three most visited websites in the world. The group has a platform for autonomous driving called "Apollo" ready for car manufacturers. The fact that Baidu is entering electromobility with the “Jidu” brand would be comparable to the start of a Google car for us in Europe. However, Google is still holding back and is instead equipping the cars of traditional OEMs such as Volvo with its software.

However, Baidu does not venture into the new business field without backing. The first Baidu electric car - or mobile device - of the search engine is based on the SEA platform from Geely. Geely supports the development and produces the final product. And Baidu is not alone.

Xiaomi relies on electric cars

With the IT group Xiaomi For the first time, a smartphone provider is out of cover. The first Xiaomi electric car will appear on the market in the next 3 years. The manufacturer of budget smartphones is number 3 worldwide and is still forging alliances. Who produces and where is unclear. It would be possible that Xiaomi will have an OEM manufactured on a contract basis in the future.

Jidu 1: 1 clay model in the wind tunnel
Jidu 1: 1 clay model in the wind tunnel

The auto industry's age-old fear of being degraded to a hardware supplier at some point is now taking concrete shape.

Last week there was a foretaste of what the electric cars from Chinese manufacturers can stand for. Lithuania complained about the lack of it Data security for smartphones from Xiaomi and Huawei. No surprise actually - it has been known for a long time that Chinese browsers contain censorship-supporting functions.

What is exciting, however, is the tracking and recording of up to 61 user behavior parameters that a Xiaomi smartphone could pass on to the Chinese cloud. The espionage and surveillance functions, which trigger storms of enthusiasm in every secret service, were not activated in the European versions of Xiaomi.

But there is no doubt about that, they could have been switched on remotely at any time.

Would You Buy a Chinese Electric Car?

Of course there are people who tie a smartwatch to their wrist without any criticism. I guess it's the majority. This majority is not concerned about the possibilities of surveillance; they would also buy a Chinese electric car. If the price is right, just as it fits with Xiaomi smartphones.

Jidu - Baidu prototype on Geely SEA platform
Jidu - Baidu prototype on Geely SEA platform

A modern electric car needs a 5G network to be fully functional. Something that consumes a lot of electricity, requires powerful data centers and a lot of new radio masts. Beijing recently reported over 50.000 G5 masts in the city area, and expansion is ongoing. And it also runs, more restrained, in Germany. A power-guzzling basic requirement for a new generation of electric vehicles.

Something that world savers like to ignore, that see electric cars as an escape route with no alternative.

Two data centers are under construction in my immediate vicinity. One is being built by the Internet giant Google, and another is to be built in the former Neckermann complex arise in Frankfurt. The investments are the effects of digitization and ever larger volumes of data.

The expected electricity consumption in Frankfurt will be higher than that which the entire district of Fechenheim needs at the moment.

The perfect surveillance machine

A 5G electric car is the perfect surveillance machine. It's not just about boring things like eavesdropping on passengers or their driving or internet behavior. You can measure parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate and weight of the driver on a daily basis. Who drives with whom, who stops where, who buys where and for how long? What does he pay for it, how is his credit rating developing, who are his friends, does he drive to work on time? The list of possibilities is endless, and unfortunately my imagination is insufficient.

The transparent person who will no longer have a secret can finally become a reality.

That is what the European one is for that this does not happen Privacy regulation. It is, admittedly, a not particularly sympathetic bureaucratic construct made by people who cannot have a particularly close connection to practice. But it basically prevents abuse and is intended to protect privacy. For this reason alone, it is good that it exists at all.

It is different in China. Surveillance and censorship are part of state doctrine here. Just as Chinese smartphones are naturally equipped with a monitoring function, so will electric cars from Baidu or Xiaomi. Simply because it is considered normal there and the companies cannot do otherwise.

It may be that these features will be disabled outside of China. But activation can be done remotely, the Chinese cloud is global.

The carelessness of the users

Neither Baidu nor Xiaomi have to worry about the future business model. The average user is carefree about their data. He maximally pixelates the license plate of his vehicle before posting on social media. If he does not have this ability, he covers it with a cloth. This is where his ideas on the subject of privacy end, and the fact that he is visible in public spaces with this car every day, without a potentially hidden license plate, does not matter either.

He doesn't worry about the possibilities his smartphone or smartwatch from Chinese production might have. Why should he? The device was cheap, it has the latest gadgets.

What more can you ask for?

20 thoughts on "Would you buy a Chinese electric car?"

  • blank

    No. I will definitely not buy such a device and would like to join the list of previous speakers.
    Every company controlled by China is legally obliged to open its doors to the Chinese secret service if the government so wishes.
    I don't want to have to mutate into a biological, mobile device that is forced by market developments - that's the next step.
    One should not (yet) give up hope that politics and industry will finally take up this topic. The global economy is and will remain networked, but considerations of return should not be seen as a sacred monstrance overlaying all other values. The priorities would have to be set anew, because climate change is just as difficult to discuss as the virus.
    ps I am also reluctant to use the Telegram service for similar reasons

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    It will probably not go quite that “quickly” (5-10 years), but the direction is definitely clear.
    Thanks for the nice article, Tom.

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  • blank

    ... also NO ... agree with the previous speakers and share most of the comments!

    Of course, something positive has to be done for our environment, nobody can deny that we are somehow all involved in life on this planet.

    But a lot if not everything concentrates on the beloved mobility, and there are hundreds if not thousands of other “sin problems” that are addressed far less often because it only affects most of us indirectly. But mobility is more interesting because there is the large headless mass and this lucrative commerce in this sector is consciously exploited by the BIG.

    Current fashion talk:
    "Electromobility" to the fullest! Whatever the reason, the near future will probably show us; Electricity is not directly visible or tangible, but it has to be generated somehow, preferably free of charge, of course! But here, too, we are dealing with a cycle in which environmental pollution is somehow involved.

    What follows after that? Do we need all of this, more and more and more? Wherever we look, we have increasingly reached over-saturated performance limits; It certainly cannot go on like this ... this topic will certainly never end and could be carried on indefinitely!

    A sensible global rethink would have been fashionable and appropriate for ages; in the sense of "back to nature and humanity". But that will probably be an illusion, because globalization now rules us because it is already deeply rooted in our everyday life.

    Even if we want to refuse Chinese products in good faith in order to support our internal industry / trade, we have come to the point that it is practically impossible for us not to come across the designation "made in PRC"!

    We no longer have to be surprised that this people is suffering from the greatest environmental pollution, thanks in part to us.

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  • blank

    Thanks Tom.
    It's good if you can and are allowed to read (in the article and the comments) that you are not the last of the Mohicans ...

    Energy demand, data protection, commercial and Chinese interests - everything included, everything to it. You can't see the topic critically enough ...

    TikTok (Chinese) drives our pubes crazy. It's a weapon. Hardly anyone knows, but there is no TikTok in China. It's just an offensive weapon. Of course, you don't use them on your own territory and against yourself and your own offspring ...

    What discussions have I had with my puberty. Constantly this TikTok “knowledge” that you have to explain and put into perspective. I have sleepless nights and in China a few responsible people laugh themselves to sleep every night.

    And that is not a conspiracy theory, but the logical consequence of real conditions.

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      Yes, TikTok. A collecting machine for biometric data. The reason it remains banned in China. I can only imagine the discussions too well. Byte Dance, the company behind TikTok is now striving into the autonomous driving business with its own cloud. A creepy idea that this data octopus could travel in the car.

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    • blank

      Well, you shouldn't be under the illusion that your own offspring are treated better in China than those of other nations.
      Yesterday in the foreign journal I saw that in China it is now forbidden that foreigners are allowed to work as teachers, so that no foreign influence is possible. Because with Chinese teachers you can be sure about indoctrination, and thus also about the growing population.

      And where the control is not so great, some form of incentive must be used. On the other hand, I don't think that wanting to be in almost complete control is a dream job. So I guess that the Chinese grandees are more likely to suffer from paranoia than to die of laughing ...

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        They certainly suffer from paranoia. It is an astonishing contradiction that the largest nation in the world, according to the behavior of its own leadership, is apparently also the most fragile.
        The upbringing and educational goals are subordinate to this. That's correct. But according to your own standards, you definitely value healthy development ...
        Did you know that in China all PC games * can only be played three days a week for a limited time each day?

        The CCP takes over the digital competence and saves the parents a lot of discussions. Of course that is also paternalism, but this - and only this - I, as a father, took note of it with a certain envy ...

        * Only applies to games that require online access. As I understand it, is that almost all of them today? At least the speed of WiFi and Internet access are more important to my puberty than they should.

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  • blank

    Definitely not going to buy a Chinese e-car, not even a Volvo from the present day.
    As long as I will still be driving, I will always find a more or less analog alternative .... Although, I am not consistent either, my Apple smartphone with Google Maps guides me to my destination.

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  • blank

    No and if I have to walk
    Well then maybe already

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    The problem is of course real, but actually not an electric car problem and probably not even remotely new. I estimate that manufacturers have been using onboard diagnostics for years to store significantly more data than we all want to admit.
    When cars were not yet permanently online, the data was of course not always available, but the installed SIM card has been different for several years.
    Some people may even be happy that their car keeps a logbook and others are just happy that the cars of others keep a logbook ...

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    • blank

      Please think differently away and standard.

      You shouldn't want to quickly rephrase and then click "send" too early ...

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    Long use = sustainability. Tom, that further encourages me not to buy a new car and to drive old cars (Saab) instead.

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    Thanks Tom for making me think!

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      I am very pleased! It has long surprised me that this topic does not play a role in any public discussion. Has the majority become so uncritical?

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        ... is also not an issue with my friends ... they are not interested (or do not even have a clue about it ... or there are wise sayings like "I have nothing to hide.")

        They even proudly boast that (in those cases) their BMW / Mercedes SUVs are directly connected to the manufacturer and the manufacturer can call them in the event of a breakdown and see "faults" straight away. 🙁
        Also that they actually only rent a Telsas instead of buying it (since Tesla retains all rights to software, etc.) and they voluntarily hand over their "driving data", etc. to Tesla (.. and also monitor everything 360 °) they don't care. 🙁

        Today in the Facebook-WhatsApp-Instagram-Amazon-Google world that seems to be of no interest to many! Too bad.

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  • blank

    NO!
    Chinese def. not (not even Volvo or Polestar currently).
    In the future, an e-car with Android / Google from Europe / USA will probably also be extremely reluctant.

    When I bought the last / current car, I was already thinking about future e-cars (or repairing old ones and driving a little further or buying old used cars and using them for a shorter time), etc.

    Back then (at the end of 2014) I made a conscious decision in favor of the “last big new development” from Saab (with an eye on the longest possible use ... at least 10-15 years; preferably more) and still do not regret this decision.
    Also with regard to the “operating system” / software of the car (no control, no “monitoring”)! 🙂

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  • blank

    One more reason to keep driving my 19-year-old Saab.

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  • blank

    Nein!
    In my opinion, the whole history of mobility is going in the wrong direction anyway. Since I'm the kind of old white man, nobody cares. Maybe that's a good thing, because I'm a kind of keeper of the Grail and I can't get much from the supposed progress.
    Yes, and that's exactly why I drive Saab and hopefully for a long time to come

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