xpeng p7 at guangzhou motor show 2019.
xpeng’s electric vehicle mission was always bigger than the company liked to talk about. To the outside world, the G3 SUV is known as the G3, but internally, during development, it had a different, more ambitious name: David.
Reading: G3 suv and the p7 sedan
That’s an unsubtle codename, and mission statement, for an ev the Chinese startup wanted to use to take on the big players. And that includes both the big automakers and the standard gasoline engine mentality that dominates vehicular traffic around the world. the goliaths, so to speak.
xpeng’s all-electric g3 off-roaders are now a relatively common sight in some parts of china. By the end of October 2019, Xpeng has delivered more than 12,000 G3s to more than 200 cities in China. On a recent trip to guangzhou, where xpeng is based, it didn’t take long for me to start recognizing the g3s as they moved silently through the busy streets.
we were there to learn about xpeng’s upcoming second model, the p7 sedan, which the company had unveiled to the world at the shanghai show in april. The company announced in Guangzhou that its new EV would start at 240,000 RMB (about $34,500) and would be available in five different configurations. The pre-order price for higher trim levels, for example with a longer-range battery pack, reaches 370,000 RMB ($53,000). xpeng did something right with that price, racking up over 15,000 pre-orders since April. the company says it will start shipping the p7 to customers in the second quarter of 2020.
brian gu, vice president and president of xpeng, unsurprisingly says that he believes the p7 is superior to the tesla model 3 in many ways. Xpeng’s selling points aren’t just the electric powertrain, but also the futuristic tech features, like all the “geek” parts of the G3. in the off-roader, that means lots of self-driving tech, high-definition maps, and a quirky camera on the roof. on the p7, it includes driver safety monitoring and updates to autonomous capabilities, while dispensing with that specific camera. And the high end of the P7 price range is where the Model 3 starts in China, Gu said, putting Xpeng in a good spot.
“Model 3 is a great product,” he said. “if model 3 is successful, it will bring out the whole market. it gets people excited about evs. but when people ask me about an alternative to that, they want localization, better value, and differentiated capabilities. and the p7 will be right there.”
xpeng p7 electric sedan.
As stated, xpeng likes to give meaning to their vehicle names, whether they’re for internal use or not, and for their production models, all letters stand for something. the g in g3, for example, stands for “geek” and the p in p7 stands for performance. xpeng reps said two more models, the n and e, are coming, but they didn’t tell us which ones they might be. the numbers have a less precise meaning, but all relate to size, a combination of car length and overall size. so the 7 in p7 means the car is bigger (longer) than the g3 even though it is a sedan.
Obviously, xpeng is not the first automaker to sell electric vehicles in the Chinese market. It’s a crowded space these days, and Xpeng might have been one of the first to put its EVs up for sale, as the company was the first Chinese company to obtain a license to build and sell EVs, according to Gu. In 2017, before sales of the G3 began, Xpeng decided to slow down to further test the vehicles, and that precaution meant that Xpeng ended up being the third such company to start selling EVs. “That was a reflection of the philosophy that xpeng has,” he said.
That philosophy continues today, with xpeng taking its time to make things right. moving slow has also allowed xpeng to follow the lead of tesla, nio and byton as it builds its own store network. xpeng has around 100 open now, with more planned for the new year. taking the time also allowed xpeng to make smart money moves, gu said.
“We’re very cost conscious,” he said. “If you look at how much capital it took us to deliver 10,000 vehicles, I think we’re less than a quarter of what Nio spent to reach the same milestone.” and nio didn’t build its own plant like xpeng did, he added.
“xpeng can do things more profitably because we choose to spend the money primarily on research and development,” he said. “Hopefully that will lead to a more cautious and disciplined outcome and allow us to avoid the pitfalls that others have made.”