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Meet Xpeng, China's Tesla rival

10/12/2018
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Tesla may have led the way in electrifying the car industry, but now it’s facing stiff competition across the globe as established manufacturers begin to catch-up and a swathe of new start-ups receive injections of capital. In China, Xpeng Motors aims to take Tesla’s crown and become the country’s biggest electric car manufacturer.
Xpeng's similarity to Tesla is no coincidence. The Chinese manufacturer has made extensive use of Tesla's open source patents.
(Image via Xpeng Motors).

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur and engineer, He Xiaopeng, Xpeng Motors look and perform uncannily like Tesla’s models. That’s because they are heavily based on the hundreds of Tesla patents that were open sourced for the world by Elon Musk several years ago.

Much like Tesla, Xpeng Motors has ambitious plans.

According to Xiaopeng, Xpeng Motors has hired several former Tesla staffers and is in the process of developing its own charging network and series of retail stores.

The battle for the world’s largest electric car market

The appetite for electric cars in China is huge. It’s currently the world’s largest market and demand continues to surge with half of the world’s electric vehicles sold there already.
Tesla is currently gearing up to produce cars in the country, setting up its first wholly owned subsidiary in Shanghai. With Xpeng Motors yet to even produce a single car, despite having been founded in 2014, the race will be on between the two companies to see who can succeed in becoming the number 1 electric car manufacturer in China.
Xpeng Motors has been founded by Chinese entrepreneur and engineer He Xiaopeng
(He Xiaopeng, founder and CEO of Xpeng Motors. Image via Aaronlewis3207/Wikimedia Commons).

Whilst it may seem that Xpeng Motors is starting a long-way back from Tesla, the company has considerable backing- most notably from Alibaba, with the company already valued at over $3.6 billion after its latest funding round. Xpeng is aiming to raise even more money though to help it compete with Tesla. By the end of 2019 Xpeng Motors is aiming to have secured an additional $4.36 billion.

There’s clearly consumer demand for a homegrown electric car too. Xpeng Motors recently revealed that it has received 6,000 pre-orders for the G3 (Xpeng Motor’s first model) and is aiming to deliver at least 1,000 of these to customers by the end of the year (despite not yet having a production licence or factory at present).

A unique investment angle

One thing that sets out Xpeng from many of its competitors is the angle it is taking to secure investment. Xpeng is promising potential investors that its vehicles will become data-collecting hardware devices. In other words, Xpeng’s cars will monitor where their cars go, what routes they are using, what the passengers are listening to, what websites they are visiting using the in-car infotainment system and much more. All with the end goal of selling this data (or supplying it to investors). As data is more and more being used to inform multinational marketing campaigns, this is an extremely valuable proposition and one that has already been picked up upon by companies such as Alibaba, Foxconn Technology Group and Xiaomi Corp who have all invested in Xpeng in anticipation of securing the rights to this collected data.
Xpeng Motor's first model the G3 was revealed earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
(Image via Jengtingchen/Wikimedia Commons).

The details

Xpeng Motors first model the G3 was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Not only does it visually resemble a Tesla, but it comes with the same suite of apps and technologies that you’d expect from one- think autonomous parking, a smartphone app to unlock the car, and 360-degree cameras. Prices for the G3 are expected to start at around $30,000 topping out in the $45,000 region. Production of the vehicles will initially be outsourced to Haima Automobile Group in Zhengzhou until Xpeng Motors has finalised its own production facilities.

So, will Xpeng Motors be a success? 

Only time will tell. Starting a car company from scratch is no easy business, but with a vast amount of capital behind it and the support of many of Asia’s biggest tech companies as well as Tesla struggling with China’s recently introduced import tariffs, the odds are in the favour of Xpeng. 

Ultimately, when it comes Xpeng Motors versus Tesla Motors- the Chinese public will decide.

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Meet Xpeng, China's Tesla rival - Time to read 4 min
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