Chinese Startup Goes All Out Cloning Tesla Via Open-Source Patents
Thanks to Tesla’s decision to open-source its patents, Chinese startup Xiaopeng Motors has already manufactured several Model X clones.
Ok, it’s not an exact clone, because it’s geared to a more mainstream market. However, the resemblance in the details is obvious.
Though Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has made it clear that his intentions are to motivate other companies to accelerate the segment, thus far, there hasn’t really been an automaker that has officially come forward and admitted to using the automaker’s patents.
Xiaopeng Motors has been around since 2014. Henry Xia left China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group when he learned that he could use Tesla’s patents to make “clone” vehicles. Now, the company has released a beta version of its first creation. It’s an all-electric SUV, loosely based on the Model X. The automaker calls it the Xpeng and they’ve already made 15 fully functional copies.
Based on information from multiple sources, Xiaopeng is using the same “skateboard” battery pack design, the same 18650 cell format, a large center-mounted touch-screen infotainment system with Tesla-style interface, and Autopilot-like features.
In addition to following the Silicon Valley electric carmaker’s patents, Xiaopeng hired Tesla’s former machine learning head for Autopilot, Junli Gu. As the automaker moves forward with plans for autonomous features, Gu will head up the development.
The Xpeng is not considered a luxury vehicle like the Model X, rather the plan is for it to appeal to a wider audience. For this reason, it won’t offer the level of high-performance found in Tesla’s vehicles. Xiaopeng says it will have about 300 km (186 miles) of range. The fact that the Xpeng will be an affordable vehicle could prove advantageous for the automaker since Tesla’s cars are substantially pricier in China.
Xiaopeng is in the process of raising capital to move to full production (100,000 vehicles per year). According to Electrek, the automaker has already raised over $300 million of its $1.4 billion goal.
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