Zhejiang Geely Holding (ZGH or commonly known as Geely) founder and chairman Eric Li (Li Shufu) has launched a new company that will develop and sell premium smart devices, including smartphones, to global consumers. Yes, the company with several car brands (Proton, Volvo, Lynk & Co, just to name a few) in its portfolio will soon make phones that will go up against those from Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi.

The new company is called Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology and will set up base in Wuhan after Li signed a strategic cooperation with the Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone. According to an official release, Xingji Shidai will have full access to “Geely’s extensive experience in design, R&D, high-end smart manufacturing, industrial chain integration, vehicle intelligence, software development and global infrastructure, including its planned low-orbit satellite network.”

No upcoming products were mentioned, but it’s understood that adding smartphones to Geely’s product portfolio will help in the creation of a seamlessly connected ecosystem. “Mobile phones and devices have quickly evolved into mobile terminals and application platforms which not only allow users to enjoy the fruits of innovation in the quickest manner possible, they also act as a pathway to greater automotive applications,” explained Li, who owns 55% of the new company, Reuters reports.

“There is a close connection in technologies within intelligent vehicle cockpits and smartphone software technologies. The major trend in the coming future is to create user ecosystems across borders and provide users with a more convenient, smarter, and seamlessly connected multi-screen experiences,” he continued.

Geely’s commitment to selling smartphones is, in a way, a reversal of the trend where smartphone makers are making inroads into the automotive market, as we’ve seen with Huawei and Xiaomi and their electric vehicle projects.

The move is certainly surprising, but Geely does have a track record of investing in ventures beyond the automotive sphere, including aviation (flying cars and air taxis), ride-sharing, tech incubators and even satellites, among others. However, the smartphone market is highly competitive and we’ll have to wait and see if Geely’s Xingji Shidai can carve out a niche for itself.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group structure

“Geely has increased its investments in forward-looking technologies as it accelerates its transformation to becoming an innovative mobility technology enterprise. The development of mobile devices, satellites, and aeromobility are all part of the group’s transformation programmes,” Li said.

“On September 27, Geely’s first satellites rolled off the production line at Geely’s newly operational Intelligent Satellite Production and Testing Centre in Taizhou, paving a new milestone in the group’s efforts to develop an integrated future mobility ecology,” Li added.

So, would you give up your current smartphone for a Geely one? Should you own Proton X50 or X70, which are based on the Geely Binyue and Boyue respectively, it’d make a good pairing, no? Share your thoughts in the comments below.