One hundred samples of the G3, a compact SUV crossover, have been delivered to buyers across Norway this week, with more to be introduced to the rest of Europe in 2021.
Until recently, Xpeng have only been delivering to the Chinese market, but they’re now expanding their ambitions. The huge appetite for EVs in China also recently gave new life to British sports car icons of the past, MG. We covered the born-again MG EV in our latest video:
Xpeng’s cars are being distributed to new owners across Norway, including north of the Arctic Circle, which will certainly test the vehicle’s reliability in extreme weather conditions.
Xpeng likely chose the Scandinavian country for its soft international launch due to its strong market for EVs and existing infrastructure. The feedback on the car, including its English-language UI and AI, will inform the G3’s saleability in other Western markets.
The G3 isn’t Xpeng’s only vehicle – they launched the newer P7 sports saloon, currently only available in China, in June 2020, and will reportedly release two new models in 2021 and 2022. G3, incidentally, is short for ‘Geek3’. The name was chosen via a contest, but Xpeng have wisely chosen to downplay that part, at least in the Western market, where it would be a pretty bold label.
The startup attracted controversy in 2019, thanks to a still-ongoing lawsuit filed by Tesla against a former Autopilot engineer, Guangzhi Cao, who quit to join Xpeng. Tesla’s claim is that Cao downloaded their source code to his personal device, and sold it to Xpeng when he joined. Cao actually does admit to downloading some of the code, but claims he deleted it before leaving Tesla.
Xpeng founder Henry Xia has admitted that Tesla had an influence on him, and it’s pretty clear in the interior of the G3, with the UI design a near-identical ripoff. But considering Tesla effectively opened up its patents six years ago, it’s odd that they would then sue the company that was reportedly first to take them up on this.
On the other hand, though, Tesla’s statement does specify the company’s patents can be used “in good faith”, not to manufacture “knock-offs”. It doesn’t specify how close a resemblance to Tesla’s products is acceptable, and that’s probably adding complications to this drawn-out squabble.
The Xpeng G3 in Norway has a starting price of 358,000 NKr (£30,300).