Xiaomi demands payout from supplier after car designs leaked
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Xiaomi <1810.HK) said on Thursday it had imposed a 1 million yuan ($149,000) penalty on a supplier after it leaked early design drafts of an upcoming car model.
On its official Weibo page, a spokesperson wrote Xiaomi had "dealt seriously" with a Beijing-based molding technology company which on Jan. 22 publicly revealed images of an upcoming car's front and rear bumpers, violating a confidentiality agreement.
Xiaomi did not disclose the name of the company and Reuters could not identify it.
As punishment, the smartphone-turned-car maker said it would impose "economic compensation" of 1 million yuan ($148,763) on the supplier.
The spokesperson added it had instructed the supplier to strengthen its information security management, and develop plans to upgrade its confidentiality measures.
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun also circulated the note on his personal Weibo page.
Over the Chinese New Year, images purportedly showing mock ups of the front and rear of Xiaomi's upcoming electric vehicle (EV) spread on social media, as well as a full view of what appeared to be a white compact sedan, with a license plate that read "MS11".
The leaks would mark the first confirmed images of Xiaomi's long-awaited automobile.
However, News portal Sina Tech reported on Thursday that Wang Hua, general manager of Xiaomi's public relations department, said the leaked designs were part of a bidding process and were not final renderings.
In March 2021 Xiaomi, a hardware company best known for its smartphones, said it would enter the automotive sector, aiming to invest $10 billion in the project over ten years.
Since then, the company has committed to opening a plant in Beijing that could produce 300,000 vehicles per year.
The company has said it hopes to reach mass production of its cars in the first half of 2024.
($1 = 6.7221 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Mark Potter)