Chinese technology conglomerate Huawei is to invest some $1 billion (840 million euros) this year in research into electric and self-driving cars. With this, the company wants to compete with Tesla and China's Xiaomi.

Huawei, best known for its telecom equipment and smartphones, is partnering with three Chinese car companies for this purpose: BAIC Group, Chongqing Changan Automobile and Guangzhou Automobile Group. Huawei's logo should then appear on the cars.

Huawei's top executive Eric Xu says the company has technology where cars can drive more than 1,000 kilometers independently, without human intervention. By betting heavily on electric cars, Huawei can tap into a new market at a time when the Chinese group is suffering from U.S. sanctions on the sale of its telecom equipment. According to Washington, Huawei has close ties to the Chinese military and there is a risk of espionage.

Xiaomi announced earlier in late March that it will pump about $10 billion into developing electric and autonomous cars over the next ten years. China is the world's largest car market and sales of electric-powered vehicles there are likely to rise sharply this year.

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