XPeng G3: Model X Fanfiction?

Chinese EV firm XPeng builds beautiful, smart electric vehicles. How similar are they to rival Tesla, and who might win in this EV arms race?
Written by Alex Reale
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Jul 28, 2022
In the race to build the best EV, design and performance choices are giving some brands an edge—see the aerodynamic Lucid, or the
high-octane Polestar
. But it’s clear that a vast majority of these EV brands owe their wow factor to one source:
Tesla
Tesla’s look-and-feel is in the water, and EV brands haven’t yet found another well to draw from. In fact, one Chinese brand might be Tesla’s number one fan. 
Jerry
, the
car ownership super app
, looks at XPeng, and the Model X-esque XPeng G3.

XPeng G3 vs. Tesla Model X

The Chinese EV company XPeng was founded in 2014 in Guangzhou, China, reports
CleanTechnica
, two years after Tesla released its Model S. 
In the subsequent four years, Tesla released the Model X, and XPeng worked diligently on its first vehicle. In December 2018, the Chinese firm shared the fruits of its labors with the world: a sleek crossover SUV called XPeng G3.
Praise and excitement surrounded the XPeng G3, but there were more than a few raised eyebrows. The G3 was an obvious aesthetic match for another car that had recently taken the EV world by storm, and it was made by Tesla. Any Model X drivers would be doing a double take in the parking lot.
Skeptical looks morphed quickly into legal action. Tesla filed a lawsuit in 2019 against a former engineer, Cao Guangzhi, claiming that he had stolen their autonomous driving IP and shared it with XPeng. Language in the lawsuit was blunt.
The Wall Street Journal
reports that XPeng’s work “transparently imitated Tesla’s design, technology, and even its business model.” 
Tesla eventually settled the lawsuit with Cao, who claimed that he had in fact saved the source code but hadn’t shared it with XPeng.
Legally, the case is closed. But it cannot be denied—the G3 looks a whole lot like a Model X.

XPeng G3 features

YouTuber Bjorn Nyland is known for his detailed, upbeat reviews of electric vehicles. In
one video
, he demonstrates the smart features on an XPeng G3, and drives it around a bit.
The two most obvious Tesla ripoffs are both autonomous: smart summon, and the parking feature. Like Tesla, the car will come when it’s called, and with a few pushes on the touch screen console (where have we seen that before?) it will park itself. 
One deviation that’s undeniably cool (and that Tesla is apparently also working on) comes in the form of hand gestures. Nyland throws up a peace sign and holds his hand out like a high five toward the G3, and the camera on the roof of the G3 responds by taking pictures of him and following his motion, respectively. He calls it an “alien,” and it’s hard to disagree. 
He also comments on the sterilization feature of the G3, which heats up the car to a bacteria-killing temperature, something clearly built for our COVID-marked world. Though Tesla doesn’t have this feature specifically for bacteria management, Nyland points out that you could just as easily use the preconditioning feature to take on any scary particles.

A sensitive topic

Though the G3 could be the Model X’s long lost twin, there are points of divergence that bode well for a fascinating contest in the EV market. 
The interior of the Model X is, quite simply, better-looking and more luxurious, but this comes at a steep price: anyone in the market for a G3 will be paying about $20,000. Compare that to the $100,000+ Model X. If you want your car to take a photo of you, it’s no contest.
And the final boss level in the battle between Tesla and XPeng might be fought over sensors. WSJ reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has dismissed XPeng’s Lidar system (the detection mechanism that allows for semi-autonomous driving) as a fool’s errand, claiming that Tesla’s simpler camera system will do just fine, if not better. 
Some critics disagree, warning that Tesla will be left behind as other EVs get better at sensing the world around them sans cameras.
For now, XPeng president Brian Gu thinks of Tesla more as a “partner than a competitor,” reports the WSJ. We’ll see if these friendly terms hold out. It wouldn’t be the first time Tesla took a rival to court.
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