Ah, to be in your early 40s and have about 1 billion yuan ($155 million) burning a hole in your pocket! That is exactly what’s happening with Xiaopeng Motors chairman He Xiaopeng’s clothing, so he is now betting his fortune on yet another Tesla killer (YATK).
He Xiaopeng Bets It All Competing Against Tesla
By now, the list of Tesla competitors and “Tesla killers” runs long and deep. But to this day, despite the hoopla, no one has successfully “killed” Tesla, nor even come up with a car that truly competes against the Model S or Model X (not to mention the slowly arriving Model 3). Some are getting closer. If the Lucid Air manages to get mass produced, it stands a good chance of seriously competing against the Model S. (Though, it would benefit from access to the Supercharger network.) The NIO ES8 also has a chance to make a dent in Tesla’s Model X sales, especially in China. But to date, who has completely challenged Tesla? The answer is no one … yet.
And with this in mind, He Xiaopeng, after having sold his mobile web browser business to China’s biggest online commerce company, Alibaba, now wants to reinvest that sum. Alibaba is investing in the new venture as well. Xiaopeng’s ambition runs even bigger than taking on Tesla. General Motors and Volkswagen are also targeted.
In order to take on Tesla, Xiaopeng Motors, which also goes by the shortened name XPENG, will beef up its research team to about 700 before the end of the year. It also plans to double its annual research and development spending. The company is currently estimated at $1 billion, ranking it as one of the top 10 carmakers in China.
Building Xiaopeng Motors Into A World Renowned Brand
At the crux of the story is that Xiaopeng wants to build up his car company into an internationally recognized brand. Sounds familiar? It should. Many Chinese companies are scrambling to take advantage of the chaotic Western political scene and its businesses’ never-ending stall tactics. The problem is that short of BYD and perhaps NIO, for those of us who follow electric vehicle (EV) news, not too many people know of Chinese carmakers, at least in North America.
According to South China Morning News, Xiaopeng was quoted saying at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES): “From where I stand, the future will definitely be internet-connected smart cars. I am confident enough that I’m willing to bet all my wealth.”
CES is the perfect place to declare war on Tesla and introduce EVs with autonomous features. This is the place to introduce connected smart car concepts, the future of mobility, and, mostly, services and content. Who cares about the hardware? That’s left to regular auto shows.
Is Xiaopeng The Next Icarus?
The Icarus myth reminds us that flying too close to the sun will eventually lead to downfall. Xiaopeng is quick to tell us that he is no Jia Yueting, whose Leshi empire crumbled under a mountain of debt and scrutiny from Chinese regulators.
In the end, Xiaopeng Motors has an electric G3 SUV. And the “G” stands for “geek.” Why not? And true with today’s EV design cues, the G3 adorns the unavoidable Franz Holzhausen Tesla look, with the high fascia lip and thin headlights. Because? Because you have to look like a Tesla to inspire Tesla-like performance and dreams, or so it seems.
Speaking of Tesla competition, the G3 is slated to go on sale for about 250,000 yuan (~$38,700). That price will most likely creep up to 300,000 yuan (~$46,700), but this is more in the Audi, Mercedes, and BMW base SUV territory than Tesla. The Tesla Model X starts $118,000 in China.
Final Thoughts on Xiaopeng Motors
We’re certainly excited to see companies taking to EVs as much as the modern Chinese carmakers do. We do get very weary having to hear about Tesla killers after a decade of no real Tesla killers. Competition is a healthy thing, but creativity and giving a jaded consumer base viable mobility solutions is what excites us most.
You can see how the Xiaopeng Motors continues to develop its strategy online on LinkedIn.
One thing we look forward to is He Xiaopeng making Xiaopeng Motors more active on social media as well as, and giving us an English version of the company’s website. #xpengmotors