Xiaomi, the giant Chinese consumer electronics company that makes everything from smartphones to vacuum cleaners and light bulbs, has been planning on making an electric car since March 2021, but news has been slow regarding the firm’s EV endeavors, until now.

According to an article on CnEVPost, Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun said during a meeting on March 5 that the company’s car project is progressing “beyond expectations,” with several prototypes having recently completed winter testing and mass production set to begin as early as the first half of 2024.

We previously reported on the Chinese electronics firm’s EV project back in 2021, when there were discussions about a partnership between Xiaomi and a well-established electric vehicle manufacturer, like Great Wall Motors, but the latter said the information was false. Another rumor that was floating around said that Xiaomi Automotive was in talks with BAIC Group, but Lei Jun made no mention of any co-branding deal during his recent speech.

That’s not to say that Xiaomi is dragging its feet, because by late 2021 it had already signed a contract to establish an automotive business in the suburb of Yizhuang in Beijing, which would include its headquarters, research and development (R&D) department, and electric vehicle manufacturing plant.

As for the R&D department, it now consists of over 2,300 employees that are working around the clock to deliver a finished product that will feature advanced driver assistance systems. According to previous reports, the Chinese company has confirmed that its first EV will be a sedan equipped with a Lidar system supplied by California-based Hesai Technology, with Lei saying last summer that Xiaomi was testing its own driver assistance technology that’s aimed to be top-tier by 2024 standards.

Xiaomi’s first foray into the passenger EV world will have a starting price of around $43,000 (300,000 RMB) when it goes on sale in China next year, according to CnEVPost. This would make it one of the most expensive products it makes, compared to the laptops, smartphones, electric scooters, and other products in its vast portfolio.

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