Xpeng is one of the most controversial EV startups, and yet it’s one of the most successful. The openly Tesla-inspired EV maker announced that it secured a $400 million investment.
Henry Xia, who founded Xpeng in 2014, admitted openly that he was influenced by Tesla and by the automaker’s announcement that they were open-sourcing their patents.
That said, Xpeng went a little further than just using Tesla’s technology.
We published a report last year about how Xpeng, also known as Xiaopeng Motors, was building a vehicle heavily inspired by Tesla to the point that some were calling it a “Tesla clone.” They even copied Tesla’s Autopilot interface.
Later, Tesla ended up suing Xpeng, claiming that they stole the Autopilot source code through a former employee, which the startup denied.
Despite the controversy, the company is seeing success with over 10,000 electric SUVs sold to date, and it is coming out with a new electric sedan.
Now Xpeng announces that it completed a $400 million Series C capital raising round.
Current investors participated in the round, and they also added Xiaomi Corporation, the Chinese consumer electronics giant, to their list of investors.
Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi Corporation, commented on the strategic investment:
Xiaomi Corporation and Xpeng Motors have achieved significant progress through in-depth collaboration in developing technologies connecting smart phones and smart cars. We believe that this strategic investment will further deepen our partnership with Xpeng in advancing innovation for intelligent hardware and the Internet of Things.
The new investment will help the startup bring its new P7 electric sedan to production at its own factory in Zhaoqing, currently under construction, and they expect deliveries to start as soon as Q2 2020.
In the meantime, they keep producing and selling their successful G3 electric SUV.
I don’t hate Xpeng. They are doing some cool things and investing heavily in electric vehicle production at scale.
They also might be the first company to use Tesla’s open-source patent, which makes it ironic that Tesla is suing them, which is something that they promised not to do.
Of course, there was the condition of using their technology “in good faith,” and Tesla is actually not suing them for using their patented technology, but for allegedly stealing the Autopilot source code.
I don’t know whether they did or not, so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but it’s a crazy situation and it’s worth following Xpeng’s progress in the meantime.
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