Xpeng Motors held a test drive media event in Guangzhou, China, last week to demonstrate its upcoming Navigation Guided Pilot system (NGP). About 100 journalists were invited and had the opportunity to drive an Xpeng P7 with a beta version of XPilot 3.0's NGP.
Xpeng also gave the journalists the opportunity to drive a Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot along the same route later in the day, so they could compare how both systems performed under the same road conditions. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, InsideEVs couldn't attend the event, but we were able to have a local journalist, Mark Andrews, record his experience for us.
Mark is joined by local EV advocate, Jefferson Teng, for the Model 3 drive and the two discuss their observations. Teng owns an Xpeng G3 and an Xpeng P7, so he's obviously an Xpeng fan, and that needs to be taking into account when considering his opinions. Mark, however, is a very balanced reporter that we've worked with before and he doesn't favor any one brand - he calls it as he sees it.
It's also noteworthy that Mark did not have any experience with either system before this event. Xpeng's NGP was just released in beta form in the vehicles used for this event and Mark didn't realize how Autopilot will disengage and restrict its use if you don't tug the steering wheel when it prompts you to.
The fact that the Model 3's instrumentation was in Chinese certainly added to the confusion, because Mark couldn't read the warning that was alerting him to grab the steering wheel. It might have been a more thorough comparison if Andrew's has more experience with Tesla's autopilot system.
It's a long video so we've timestamped some of the different sections:
@3:10 Mark's introduction
@4:58 Mark begins Xpeng P7 with NGP road test
@18:05 Tesla Model 3 test drive begins
@30:50 Mark and Jefferson offer final thoughts on the comparison
It's also important to point out that Xpeng's NGP is optimized for Chinese road conditions and Tesla's Autopilot isn't. That can't be emphasized enough because there's no one-size-fits-all approach for advanced driver's assist systems. Traffic patterns, highway exit/entrances, and road rules differ around the world and Xpeng has told us domestic brands that focus specifically on Chinese driving environments will have the best ASAD in China because of that.
The software must be optimized for the environment it will be used in, and for that reason, electric vehicle manufacturers in China like Xpeng and NIO are confident they will have better self-driving technology than, for example, Tesla will on domestic roads. They do admit the advantage will be in Tesla's corner when it comes to adapting their systems for European and North American roads but believe they can compete there as well.
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Since we didn't participate in the test drive event, we're not in a position to say one system was better than the other. Instead, we included a lot of footage we received so our readers can watch and see how each system performed under similar conditions.
Regardless of "who won", it's clear that Xpeng is moving forward rapidly with its ADAS, and will be one of the companies leading the charge into what will ultimately be fully autonomous cars. That's good news in our opinion, the more competition the better.