Chinese EV maker Xpeng unveils SUV with semi-autonomous driving system

·3-min read

Guangzhou-based Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Xpeng Motors unveiled its fourth model at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition on Friday.

G9, a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that will be equipped with a semi-autonomous driving system, will be the carmaker’s first model to be compatible with the advanced Xpilot 4.0 driver-assist system and a new version of its X-Power superchargers that allow cars to charge for a 200-kilometre driving range in 5 minutes.

“Our G9 flagship smart SUV represents a new level of sophistication with a global perspective, and is an essential part of our exploration of smarter, safer, greener and sustainable mobility,” said He Xiaopeng, the carmaker’s CEO and chairman.

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The launch comes amid expectations that the sales of new-energy vehicles, which pure electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell-powered cars, will touch 2.4 million units in 2021, more than doubling last year’s 1.17 million, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

The G9 is being viewed as another strong competitor for Tesla’s Model Y, which is currently China’s bestselling battery-powered SUV. The made-in-Shanghai Model Y is priced between 276,000 yuan and 387,900 yuan, and 33,033 of these were sold in China in September, topping sales of all other SUVs, including conventional vehicles.

The G9 will also compete with the likes of Nio’s ES6, Li Auto’s Li One and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E. Just last week, Ford said it would offer its Co-Pilot 360 driver assist software package free of charge to boost the sales of the all-electric SUV.

Xpeng did not give details of the G9’s pricing during the launch. The SUV joins its G3 SUV and P7 and P5 sedans. The carmaker plans to launch it in China in the third quarter of 2022, said a person familiar with the matter.

The carmaker plans to unveil Xpilot 4.0, which provides full-scenario support to drivers, in 2023. The system’s current version, Xpilot 3.0, which was unveiled this year, has navigation guided pilot functions on highways and has recorded 11.98 million kilometres of driving.

Founded in 2015, Xpeng is backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, which also owns the South China Morning Post, and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corporation. It ranked No. 1 ahead of Tesla in a survey of car owners on their experience with 42 in-vehicle technologies conducted by JD Power in August.

Last month, it delivered a total of 10,138 vehicles, a 2.6 per cent decline from the previous month because of a shortage of key components. Power outages across mainland China in the past two months, as well as a lack of materials ranging from steel and aluminium to automotive chips, have affected production.

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