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Chinese language Tesla rival XPeng plans new autos and targets a distant future in robots and flying automobiles

GUANGZHOU, China — For the foreseeable future, Chinese language electrical automobile start-up XPeng is making an attempt to spice up its gross sales on the planet’s largest auto market.

However the Guangzhou, China-based firm can also be exploring areas together with robotics and flying automobiles, which may play a job in its longer-term objectives.

In an interview with CNBC that aired Thursday, He Xiaopeng, the founder and CEO of XPeng, mentioned the continued chip scarcity hitting the auto business and why the Chinese language Tesla rival is investing in robotics and flying modes of transport.

Earlier this 12 months, XPeng confirmed off a second prototype of a flying passenger automobile which it says has been in growth for eight years. And on Tuesday, it took the wraps off a four-legged “robotic unicorn,” because it pushes into new areas of enterprise.

“With the event of expertise, the type of mobility will evolve from wheels to wings, propellers, 4 legs or 2 toes,” He stated, in line with a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language feedback. “Know-how ought to assist individuals have higher and happier lives. This has at all times been my objective.”

The XPeng founder predicts that every one automakers will turn out to be each automobile makers and robotics corporations, a course of He says may take 10 to 30 years. XPeng is taking a look at robots as a transportation software “in a low-speed and random setting.”

“Because it will get higher and smarter in the long term, it may assist us with some easy repetitive duties. Because the transportation software turns into an increasing number of clever, it may assist us tackle some duties. That is how we envision it,” he stated.

XPeng’s competitor Tesla can also be investing in robotics. Final month, CEO Elon Musk stated the corporate will build a humanoid robot called Tesla Bot. Different corporations have additionally proven off robots, together with Boston Dynamics and Chinese language electronics large Xiaomi.

Flying automobiles

The X2, XPeng’s second flying automobile prototype and first that is capable of carry a passenger, was unveiled in July.

Founder He stated the corporate is constructing a analysis and growth group that can “have a couple of hundred individuals.”

“We wish to introduce a flying automobile that may take off or land vertically, a low-to mid-altitude flying automobile.”

A number of auto companies together with Hyundai and China-based Geely are growing aerial autos. Different corporations like Guangzhou-based EHang are additionally engaged on passenger drones.

The XPeng founder stated the corporate could have a press convention sooner or later, maybe in a 12 months, to debate the scale and pricing in addition to begin taking pre-orders for its flying automobile.

Chip scarcity, new merchandise

Like many automakers, XPeng has been affected by the global shortage of semiconductors that go into autos. The corporate stated its deliveries of vehicles fell in August versus July. XPeng has three automobiles available on the market — the flagship P7 sedan, a less expensive sedan known as the P5 and the G3 sports activities utility car.

The availability chain poses the “largest problem” for the corporate, however He sees it as an opportunity to construct resilience on the automaker.

“The pandemic has triggered a scarcity of semiconductor chips, which is the most important blow to our enterprise. I anticipate the chip scarcity to ease in about 18 months from now. Within the close to future, the state of affairs would possibly get even worse,” he stated.

“XPeng is a really younger firm. I see this as an early take a look at. If we will overcome the problem and prepare for what’s to return, we are going to do even higher when our gross sales attain 300,000 or 500,000 automobiles per 12 months.”

Learn extra about electrical autos from CNBC Professional

In the meantime, the corporate has pledged to push on with the discharge of latest fashions. On Sept. 15, the corporate will formally launch its P5 sedan aimed at the mass market, after unveiling it in April. And from 2023, XPeng plans to launch a minimum of two or three new car fashions yearly. In preparation for that, the electrical carmaker is expanding its own manufacturing capacity.

The CEO stated that sooner or later the corporate will launch extra automobiles within the vary of 200,000 yuan ($30,968) to 400,000 yuan. At present, its most cost-effective automobile, the P5, begins at 160,000 yuan. He additionally stated that its fashions may embody greater 5-seat or 7-seat fashions. The corporate doesn’t have a 7-seat mannequin but.

XPeng has tried to pitch itself as totally different from its home rivals as a result of it develops its personal in-house semi-autonomous driving features in a system known as XPilot. Its newest model, XPilot 3.0, could be added into its automobiles as an optionally available further and is a rival to Tesla’s Autopilot.

Within the first quarter of the 12 months, XPeng stated that it recorded revenue from software for the first time, which incorporates its assisted driving system XPilot. The founder stated that whereas the vast majority of XPeng’s income is from {hardware} now, software program shall be a “rising half” of that.

“My thought is that after we launch XPilot 4.0, we are going to focus extra on our software program enterprise,” He stated, referring to the next-version of its restricted self-driving characteristic suite.

— CNBC’s Penny Chen contributed to this report

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