Asia Business Channel

Chinese electric car start-up Xpeng plans to compete against Tesla in China

Guangzhou-based Xpeng Motors, backed by Alibaba Group Holding, handed keys to its first batch of mass buyers on Dec. 12th as it showed off its new car models and unveiled its suggested retail price and special subsidy price.

At the event, He Xiaopeng, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, mentioned US rival Tesla, when talking about the mileage range and auto parking functions and pricing of Xpeng’s cars.

Xiaopeng said: “I drive Tesla cars, in fact I have four. But with certain features, Xpeng is even better.” He claimed that Xpeng’s interior environment was quitter than Tesla’s and said: “You’ll love listening to music while in car like you never did before.”

The audience and attending media at the event were quite surprised when Xiaopeng discussed the prices for the G3 sports utility vehicle, the company’s first mass-produced model. The G3 has a retail price of 227,800 yuan ($33,150 USD) before subsidies. After subsidies, the basic G3 version will cost 135,800 yuan ($19,760 USD), which gives the car a significant price advantage over the Tesla Model 3’s price tag of 782,900 yuan ($113,930 USD) after tariffs.

China’s automobile market has seen a growing crowd of new players in recent years. Venturing into ground previously dominated by foreign carmakers such as GM, Toyota Motor and Volkswagen are new names like NIO, WM Motor and now Xpeng.

NIO is backed by Chinese technology company Baidu, and rolled out its new models earlier this year. NIO is listed on the New York stock exchange and in its quarterly filing said that it had delivered 3,000 vehicles since launch and expected to deliver between 6,700 and 7,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018. NIO said that it plans to launch its second mass-produced model, the ES6, a five-seat electric SUV with a starting price of 370,000 yuan ($53,850 USD) at the end of December.

WM Motor is backed by Tencent Holdings, and like NIO has a head start on Xpeng. The company says that it expects to reach its 2018 target of delivering 10,000 vehicles by the end of the year.

Xpeng and the vision of its founder, He Xiaopeng have been warmly embraced by investors and although the company has just delivered its first electric vehicles, it has successfully raised more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) since its establishment in 2014, attracting Alibaba, Foxconn Technology Group, and Hillhouse Capital among its investors.

Chinese electric vehicle start-ups are investing billions of dollars in advanced technologies that they believe will allow them to catch-up and overtake the technological features of their foreign competitors. Chinese companies are focusing on autonomous driving and smart features like voice control that they believe will be attractive to their Chinese customers.

China’s new breed of automakers are also creating partnerships with Chinese technology and marketing platforms at a greater rate than their foreign competitors. New Chinese automobile models of the future are envisioned to have artificial intelligence, smart maps and virtual reality functions built into the cars as well as a variety of audio and visual entertainment systems. Car companies believe that smart features, tailored for the needs of Chinese consumers, will be one of the areas that will differentiate competition in the field going forward.

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