Huawei Technologies has appointed Richard Yu, the outspoken leader of its consumer electronics business, as CEO of its smart car solutions unit, signalling the importance it places on future auto tech.
Yu, who was already director for car components, is expanding his responsibilities in Huawei’s auto segment while also departing a position he only recently gained as CEO of its cloud group. Zhang Pingan, an established cloud division executive, will take over that role, according to an internal memo.
Huawei’s consumer tech unit was the company’s growth engine before US sanctions hamstrung its ability to procure key components and effectively sidelined its smartphone business. Yu, 51, will not be relinquishing his responsibilities leading that division. However, his focus going forward will likely be on recreating its success with the company’s smart car initiatives.
A Huawei spokesman declined to comment.
Recent months have seen a surge in interest and investment in electric vehicles and advanced technology to make them more connected and capable. Huawei rival Xiaomi has committed US$10-billion to developing an EV business over the next decade while Internet giant Baidu is part of a joint venture spending $7.7-billion on smart auto tech over five years. Huawei itself has budgeted $1-billion for the category this year.
Cars vs smartphones
It was only in early April that Yu was appointed CEO of Huawei’s cloud unit, whose ultimate leader was rotating chairman Eric Xu. Yu has been involved in Huawei’s car project for months and delivered a public speech at a flagship store in Shanghai on 20 April, promoting EVs powered by Huawei’s technologies.
“Huawei’s smartphone business is badly hurt by four rounds of US sanctions within two years. We decided to sell cars to offset the profit decline from smartphones,” Yu said during the event. — (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP