(Bloomberg) — While Chinese tech companies have long dreamed of moving into the electric car industry, EV upstart Neo Inc. has gone the other way — releasing its first mobile phone on Thursday.
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The not-for-profit automaker is targeting its loyal customer base with the phone, which syncs with Neo cars to control functions such as the key fob, view information such as battery charge, and control functions such as self-parking and the in-car infotainment system. The Android-based handset will be priced from 6,499 yuan ($890) – the same as Huawei Technologies Co.’s latest flagship Mate 60 Pro – Neo said when it unveiled the phone at the ‘Innovation Tech Day’ in Shanghai.
“We want our phone to connect seamlessly with the car and bring a better user experience to our car owners,” said founder and CEO William Lee at the event. The phone will be sold through Neo’s online store, although initial deliveries may be limited due to limited supply.
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In the year Founded in 2014, Neo is yet to turn a profit from its core car business and is burning through cash. It posted a larger-than-expected loss of more than $800 million last quarter. In June, it raised nearly $738 million from a stock sale for Abu Dhabi’s CIVN Holdings LLC, and earlier this week it sold $1 billion in convertible bonds — triggering a 17 percent drop in its shares.
Despite recent monthly shipments, Neo shipped just 94,352 vehicles in the first eight months of the year – less than half of its annual target of 250,000. To boost sales and strengthen its balance sheet, the company cut prices, cut customer benefits, rolled out improved models and delayed some investments.
However, it has stuck with the mobile phone plan that was first announced last year. In addition to unveiling the phone, Neo also showcased its full-stack technology lineup at Innovation Tech Day, including battery systems, chips, electric drives, vehicle engineering, intelligent drivers, smart cabins and artificial intelligence.
The company has already started mass production of laser-based radar memory control semiconductors, which can save several hundred yuan per unit, Li said. But the automaker will miss out on building battery swapping sites in Europe this year.
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