Henry Xia, founder and president of Xiaopeng Motors, shared his unique insights on electric vehicles with media including AllChinaTech at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing on Friday.
Xia said there are three methods for making electric vehicles in China right now. The first one is when a Chinese internet company finds a Chinese automobile manufacturer who will insert internet technology into their vehicles; the second one is when a Chinese internet company cooperates with a European or American car manufacturer; and the last one is a new combination of Chinese car manufacturing experts and Chinese internet experts.
He added that Xiaopeng Motors belongs in that third group. He believes that the first method is doomed to fail and that the second one has its advantages in car manufacturing, but that research staff will not have enough mutual communication in the early R&D period. Xia said this is due to cultural differences and can lead to a final product that has defects. As for the third method, he said that first-class local automobile talent and internet experts have a better understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese customers’ requirements on cars, so the final products will be targeted better to the Chinese market.
Xia graduated from Tsinghua University with a major in Automobile Engineering. Prior to co-founding Xiaopeng Motors, he served as the supervisor for the New Energy Vehicle Control Section at Guangzhou Automobile Group. He led the control system R&D through quite a few new energy vehicles and smart vehicles. He also got lots of experience in international collaboration as a resident engineer in Europe. His teammates mainly come from automobile and internet companies including Guangzhou Automobile Group, BMW, Lamborghini, BYD, Alibaba,Tencent, Huawei, and Sumsung.
“Our company has been concentrating on making our cars silently for two years. As of now, five mule cars have been tested, with testing distance exceeding 50,000 kilometers,” Xia told AllChinatech.
The company declared that it is leading in R&D for the core technology of motors, batteries, electronic control systems and central touchscreen displays in China.
Xia emphasized that the company aims to attract a younger generation by using new technology and craftsmanship to make better vehicles in the future.
“We will apply the concept of the sharing economy to our products. Methods of both selling and renting vehicles will be adopted, but the latter will be our main profit source,” he said.
Xia also disclosed that the prototype car would be finished in late 2016 and that production is expected to start by the end of 2017.
Founded in Guangzhou in 2014, the company completed USD 42 million in Series A financing last month. Also, the investors loaned the company USD 60 million without interest to support its development for the next two years.
It has strong support from several big tech people including He Xiaopeng, who co-founded the Chinese mobile internet software and service provider UCWeb; Li Xueling, who founded the Chinese video-based social network YY; and Bo Sheng, who founded China’s second largest internet security software provider Cheetah Mobile.
AllChinaTech has a media partnership with GMIC. AllChinaTech is a startup media platform dedicated to providing timely news and analysis on the Chinese tech industry in English.