Xpeng’s electric vehicles will equip lidar next year to improve its autonomous driving technology, and the news raised questions in the electric vehicle industry, including from Tesla, whose CEO insinuated that Xpeng stole their technology. Concerning Elon Musk’s comment, Xpeng’s CEO Xiaopeng He fired back on social media.
After the launch, analyst Tasha Keeney tweeted her doubts about Xpeng’s new lidar addition. “Big deviation from copying Tesla,” she tweeted. “Xpeng says it will greatly improve accuracy – I believe it, but can severely limit scalability for their autonomous approach. Did they realize they couldn’t make their Tesla-copy approach work?”
Tesla’s CEO replied to her on Twitter, saying, “They have an old version of our software & don’t have our NN inference computer.” This comment is believed by the industry to be insinuating Xpeng’s theft of Tesla’s technologies.
He also added on Twitter, “To be clear, this was just an Xpeng problem. Other companies in China have not done this.”
Musk has stated earlier that lidar is too expensive and not necessary, as Tesla’s self-driving technology relies on cameras and radar.
He tweeted that though Tesla’s SpaceX had used lidar for its spacecraft Dragon docking with the international space station, he believes lidar is pointless for autonomous vehicles. “If you’re going to do active photon generation, use an occlusion penetrating wavelength, like precision radar at ~4mm,” he said.
Reality looks like a strange ghost-world at radar wavelengths, Musk added. “Almost everything except metal is translucent.”
In regard to Musk’s comments, Xpeng’s CEO snapped back.
“It seems our next generation auto pilot system featuring lidar is upsetting someone in the west,” He posted on social media. The post is believed to be in response to Musk’s comments. “Rumors can’t beat any competitors. Starting next year, you need to be prepared to be defeated in China in the self-driving arena. As on the global stage, we will meet one day.”
Xpeng has feuded with Tesla ever since early 2019, when Tesla filed a lawsuit against Guangzhi Cao, a former Tesla engineer who later worked for Xpeng, and accused Xpeng of stealing Tesla’s key Autopilot technologies. Xpeng responded that the lawsuit was a crackdown intended to overpower its rivals. Xpeng would not be intimidated nor give up, and would keep recruiting more talents in the field, He said.
The Chinese smart electric vehicle company has recently announced its financial results for the third quarter this year, showing a 265.8% year-on-year increase in deliveries and a 342.5% year-on-year growth in sales. The company also raised $1.72 billion in its U.S. IPO debut in August.