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Xpeng Motors Begins Deliveries of its Electric P7 ‘Smart Sedan', Creates New Competition for Tesla in China

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【Summary】Chinese electric vehicle startup and Tesla rival Xpeng Motors has started country-wide deliveries of its new flagship P7 electric sedan China. The P7, which is dubbed as a “smart sedan”, is a strong competitor to the Tesla Model S in China, offering a similar level of high tech features and electric performance for about half the price.

Eric Walz    Jun 29, 2020 12:45 PM PT
Xpeng Motors Begins Deliveries of its Electric P7 ‘Smart Sedan', Creates New Competition for Tesla in China
The Xpeng Motors P7 electric sedan is poised to become a strong competitor to the Tesla Model S in China

Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng Motors has started country-wide deliveries of its new flagship P7 electric sedan China. The P7, which is dubbed a "smart sedan", is a strong competitor to the Tesla Model S in China, offering the same level of high tech features and performance for around $50,000 less.

The P7 was first unveiled at Auto Shanghai in April 2019.

Xpeng Motors was founded in 2014 and set out to make fully-electric vehicles packed with technology that are more affordable than models from electric vehicle pioneer Tesla. The company was inspired by the success of Tesla and even studied many of the automaker's open source patents when designing its electric vehicles.

The P7 sedan is the automaker's second fully-electric vehicle. Xpeng released its compact G3 SUV last year.

The P7 starts at US$32,466 after subsidies for the standard model and goes up to around US$49,413 for the all-wheel-drive High Performance version. For comparison, the Tesla Model S starts at US$108,020 in China.

"The customer delivery of our flagship P7 intelligent EV sports sedan, our second production model, is another testimony of our integrated capability, solidifying our position as a leading player in China's smart EV market," said He Xiaopeng, Chairman & CEO of Xpeng Motors.

Xpeng received a production license on May 19th from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to begin vehicle production at its new, wholly-owned factory at the Zhaoqing Xpeng Motors Intelligent Industrial Park, in Xpeng's hometown of Guangdong Province. 

Production of the P7 is ramping up to meet expected demand, with an annual capacity of 100,000 units, Xpeng said.

The P7, which is reminiscent of the Tesla Model S, was designed to include high tech features that car buyers are looking for today in modern vehicles, including connectivity, autonomous driving technology vehicle and a long range.

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The P7's instrument panel includes a widescreen display.

The P7's in-house designed electric drive system is the most powerful permanent magnet synchronous motor in China's EV market, according to the company. The P7 is the world's first EV equipped with the 950 IGBT module built by German semiconductor company Infineon, which more efficiently controls the output of the electric powertrain.

The P7 features all-wheel-drive setup with dual electric motors, reaching 0-60 mph in 4 seconds. The dual-motor 4-wheel drive setup can intelligently control the torque of both the front and rear wheels separately. 

Xpeng integrated the electric motor, transmission and control system in a high-performance 3-in-1 electric drive system. The setup results in greater efficiency, a more compact structure, lighter weight, more uniform interior layout, and greater reliability, according to XPeng. 

The P7's suspension was co-developed in Germany and includes a front double-wishbone and rear five-linkage independent suspension.

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Like Tesla's vehicles, the interior of the P7 is minimalistic.

The P7 is the First Production Vehicle Powered by NVIDIA's Xavier SoC

In addition to developing advanced electric vehicles, Xpeng is also working on an advanced autonomous driving system called XPilot that will offer hands-free driving. In November 2018, Xpeng announced a partnership with chipmaker Nvidia to jointly develop autonomous driving technology for use on roads in China.

The P7 will run on Xpeng's XPILOT 3.0, the company's latest version of the advanced automated driving software, which is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier system-on-a-chip (SoC). 

The P7 is the first production vehicle powered by Nvidia's powerful Xavier SoC, delivering 30 trillion operations per second.

"Consumers in China will soon have access to Xpeng's smart, highly automated EVs, which are backed by the processing power, efficiency, safety and scalability of NVIDIA Xavier," said Rishi Dhall, Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles at Nvidia in April when the Xpeng P7 first went on sale.

The P7 is equipped with 12 ultrasonic sensors, five high-precision millimeter-wave radars, 13 autonomous driving cameras, plus one in-car camera with HD maps and high-precision GPS.

Xpeng said the P7 will bring several autonomous driving features to Chinese customers for the first time, including Level 3 autonomous driving functions for highways, urban roads and valet parking.

"The P7's evolving intelligence will set it apart from other products. We are strongly committed in servicing our customers through regular OTA upgrades and quality services throughout the lifetime of their P7," said CEO He Xiaopeng.

XPeng's XPilot automated driving functions were specifically developed for China's unique road conditions, with automated features adapted for China's crowded urban roadways, including a unique "low speed follow function", which reduces the chances of aggressive drivers cutting in front of the vehicle in traffic.

"We're also working closely with Xpeng on its next-generation intelligent EV roadmap to bolster their autonomous capabilities," Dhall said.

Xpeng Motors also received an autonomous vehicle test permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), joining around 60 other companies with the permit, including Waymo, Uber and Tesla and many other global automakers.

The P7 Achieves NEDC Range of 439 Miles, the Longest of All EVs Sold in China

 Xpeng partnered with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) to develop the P7's prismatic (pouch cell) lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NCM) battery cells. The ultra-thin battery pack is only 110mm in height, reaching 170Wh/kg energy density and delivering just under 81kWh of power.

Unlike the cylindrical battery cells in the Tesla Model S, pouch cell batteries are flat and can be stacked, eliminating wasted space so the battery pack can be made more energy dense and smaller. The conductive materials are thin flat sheets sealed in a flat foil pouch, hence the name. 

The standard rear-wheel drive super-long range version of the P7 has the longest electric range of all production EVs in China. The P7's NEDC range is 706km (439 miles). For comparison, the Long Range Plus version of the Tesla Model S achieves a EPA estimated range of 402 miles.

The P7 is being sold through Xpeng's growing 190-store sales and service network, including 99 experience centers, 64 service centers and 27 sales outlets across China.

With its new P7 sedan, Xpeng is poised to become one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers in China. The company backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

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