Home » Li Auto’s CTO Wang Kai Is Reported to Leave 

Li Auto’s CTO Wang Kai Is Reported to Leave 

The baffling reshuffle of a leading Chinese EV maker

by SEP Editor
3 mins read

(Photo credit: Chuangkem.com)

With less than two years in his position, Wang Kai, the CTO of Li Auto, is reported to leave the company soon. 

Wang Kai joined Li Auto in September, 2020 as the CTO, fully in charge of R&D and mass production of smart electric vehicles. Before that, he had eight years of experience working for Visteon, a German automotive supplier, where he served as Global Chief Architect and Director of Autonomous Driving.

In the reorganization in the late January, the businesses that Mr. Wang oversaw including autonomous driving, algorithm platform, and Li OS, were handed over to the company’s co-founder and chief engineer Ma Donghui, according to 36kr, a Chinese tech media. After this bout of reorganization, Mr. Ma will assume the full responsibilities of a CTO.

(Photo credit: Seeking Alpha)

Why it matters

Wang Kai’s entry and incoming leave signifies he fell from grace despite the initial trust the company had bestowed upon him. Wang’s position level was the same as Li Xiang, the founder of Li Auto at the beginning, and he was entrusted with all the intelligence-related work.

Earlier in 2021, however, Li Auto went through an organizational restructure in which the company adjusted the role of the CTO, shifting some key responsibilities to Mr. Ma. As a result, the CTO’s role in developing the autonomous driving technology was undermined. 

After this adjustment, Wang Kai was mainly responsible for the algorithm platform and the operating system. This result seemed to have disappointed him, as is shown by the fact that he took days off on a vacation in Germany in the first half of 2021. The latest reshuffle in January this year saw the four co-founders move up to M12 level, while Wang Kai stayed still at M11.

EV makers are racing to get more market shares whether by poaching talents and reshuffling their teams as the EV demand has been soaring. Mr. Wang’s leave is a drop of water that mirrors the fierce competition in this industry. 

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