On October 24, celebrated in China as the programmers’ day due to the reference to the number 1024 that occurs regularly in computer applications, XPENG Motors held a joint Tech Day with Tsinghua University, China’s top technical school. The event’s packed agenda consisted of speeches from XPENG’s top executives, including the CEO He Xiaopeng. However, He failed to show up, as coincidentally on the very same day, also known colloquially in China as the techies’ day, one of the country’s most prominent techies had a child.
While He Xiaopeng was relishing his newly found fatherhood, his colleagues, XPENG’s Vice President of Autonomous Driving, Wu Xinzhou , and Vice President of Internet, Ji Yu, took to the stage to share their understanding of smart cars and their practical application scenarios.
“We are the only car maker in China that conducts whole car OTA,” said Ji Yu in a speech focused on the “smartness” of XPENG vehicles. One of the highlights of the event was the introduction of the digital key function that will allow owners of the new P7 model to open and start their car via facial recognition. The VP of Internet further elaborated on XPENG’s new release, adding, “the computing power of P7 is seven times higher than that of the G3, so we can add a lot of intelligent features.”
Wu Xinzhou, VP of Autonomous Driving, honed in on his own area of expertise and talked about XPENG’s approach to self-driving. Wu underscored that unlike most other Chinese companies involved in autonomous driving research, XPENG has chosen the bottom-up strategy that involves starting with easy applications and gradually building up knowledge and capabilities, instead of jumping head first into the parts unknown that are the L4 and L5 autonomous driving.
Managing XPENG’s autonomous driving R&D teams on the both sides of the Pacific Ocean, Wu described the relationship between the two centers, saying “the Chinese team is the motherboard, while the American team is the plug-in.” When asked about the competition with Tesla, Wu noted, “I think we have an advantage over Tesla. We are very focused on Chinese driving scenarios. It is very difficult for Tesla to do this. It is still based on American scenarios.”
XPENG Motors is an EV manufacturer founded in 2014 and based in Guangzhou. Prior to entering the mobility industry, CEO of the company, He Xiaopeng, founded the UC Browser, one of the top 5 mobile browsers in the world, which he sold to Alibaba in June 2014 for $4.3 billion, one of the biggest M&A deals in Chinese internet history.