China’s EV maker Xpeng challenges Tesla after theft allegations by Elon Musk
Tussle between Tesla and one of its Chinese competitors is getting more intense with time. After Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused Xpeng Motors of stealing source codes meant for self-driving cars from Tesla and Apple, the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer has decided to take on the US EV major.
The Tesla CEO recently took to Twitter to make this startling claim in a chat with one of his followers. Replying to a question why Xpeng is using LiDAR technology which is a big deviation from copying Tesla, Elon Musk replied: "They have an old version of our software and don't have our NN inference computer". He also wrote that Xpeng also 'stole Apple's code too'.
The Chinese EV maker has now broken silence over Tesla's allegations and decided to hit back. Xpeng CEO He Xiaoping took to the Chinese social media to reply to Musk's recent remarks. He said, "It seems that Xiaopeng next generation autonomous driving architecture that we unveiled yesterday, which includes LiDAR, has upset someone in the west. What I'm trying to say is that rumour mongering has long proved impossible to beat any competitor. From next year, self driving in China, you should be prepared for us to beat you. As for international, we will meet each other."
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In July 2019, a former senior Tesla official, Guangzhi Cao, admitted that he had downloaded sensitive data related to the auto-pilot function of the American car company to his personal iCloud cloud storage account before joining Xiaopeng Motors, also known as Xpeng Motors.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against Cao in 2019, accusing him of stealing Tesla's proprietary Autopilot source code. According to Tesla, Cao downloaded the code and gave it Xpeng for use in its self-driving vehicles.
Despite Tesla suing Cao accusing him of stealing trade secrets and spreading confidential information, Xpeng announced last week that it will use LiDAR sensors in the vehicles it will produce in 2021.
Xpeng Motors recently made its trading debut in United States and is one of three Chinese EV majors to be listed as IPOs. XPeng plans to introduce a new model yearly - a sedan next year and a larger SUV in 2022. While China will remain the company’s primary market for the foreseeable future, XPeng is also exploring long-term opportunities elsewhere.