Xiaomi expands manufacturing capabilities in India with new smartphone, smart TV factories

Xiaomi India has expanded its manufacturing capabilities in India with two new smartphone manufacturing plants, and one dedicated entirely for its smart TV division. The company has partnered with DBG to start a smartphone manufacturing plant in Haryana, while BYD is setting up another in Tamil Nadu. The smart TV plant is in partnership with Radiant in Telangana.

Mi India was earlier manufacturing its smartphones via manufacturing partners Foxconn and Flex. The new partnership with DBG has increased the brand’s monthly manufacturing capacity by about 20 per cent, according to the company. BYD India is expected to contribute significantly to the production capacity once its operations begin by the first half of 2021.

While BYD is a Chinese company focused on automobiles, electronics, rail transit, DGB has supplied telecom equipment to players such as Huawei.

“We thought till about March 15 last year that the COVID pandemic will have zero impact on our business here, or it will have a negligible impact. We thought it would not spread here, or even if it did our business will not be impacted. And we were completely wrong,” Manu Kumar Jain, Xiaomi India Managing Director said in a call with the media, adding that the company went from selling 10 million phones in a quarter to zero during the lockdown period.

The lockdown also impacted Xiaomi’s manufacturing capabilities, given many of the workers in these factories were migrants, who left for their hometowns during the period. According to Jain, the company had to ensure that it could provide them with a safe environment while following all protocols on social distancing in order to get them back to work.

“The entire global supply chain was in a little bit of a mess. And because of this global supply chain disruption, India’s supply chain disruption, we were also forced to make a decision. We had to import quantities from abroad in the middle of last year,” Jain explained.

The company found once the lockdown ended the demand for smartphones was so high that they were unable to meet expectations. “Last year we were still not able to ramp up, because the demand was so high, because of COVID, work from home, and study from home and so many other factors. Now with this new plant going live, we are back to having more than 99 per cent of phones being made in India,” Jain said.

Mi claims that a majority of the components such as PCBA (mother-board), sub-board, camera module, battery, back panel, USB cable, chargers, boxes and many more components are locally sourced or locally manufactured in India. Xiaomi’s manufacturer partners for these include Sunny India, NVT, Salcomp, LY Tech, Sunvoda and others.

For smart TVs, it already has a factory in Tirupati with Dixon Technology. With the new plant, 100 per cent of the smart TVs sold by Mi India will now be made in the country.

Jain said the company had to first finish meeting the domestic demand before it would consider exporting, adding that this was why it was ramping up production, especially of TVs. “Q1 is going to be the biggest quarter in 2021 in terms of domestic demand if you overlooked Diwali season. We will need to cater to the demand in India first, then look at exporting,” he said.

Asked whether Xiaomi planned to manufacture other products such as laptops or robot vacuum cleaners in India, the company executives said that would still take some time. “One needs to find the right partner with the right ability to scale, the right quality standards, etc. Obviously, we want to localise as many products as possible,” Muralikrishnan B, Chief Operating Officer, Xiaomi India said.

“If you look at direct components which are being put on the phone, 75 per cent of the value of those components are now locally sourced from India,” Jain said. However, he added that in many cases the raw material might be coming from outside such as the battery cell. He also said that some high-end components such as curved AMOLED displays are not yet manufactured in India and are still imported.

Xiaomi is currently leading the smartphone market in India and remains the top vendor, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), India’s smartphone market share declined by 2 per cent in the year 2020, which was a first after many years of growth. While Xiaomi was the market leader with 41 million shipments in the year, that too saw a decline of 6 per cent on an yearly basis.

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