GUANGZHOU, China — For the foreseeable future, Chinese electric car start-up XPeng is trying to engage its sales in the arena’s largest auto market.
However the Guangzhou, China-based company is also exploring areas including robotics and flying cars, which may presumably play a role in its longer-term goals.
In an interview with CNBC that aired Thursday, He Xiaopeng, the founder and CEO of XPeng, talked about the ongoing chip shortage hitting the auto industry and why the Chinese Tesla rival is investing in robotics and flying modes of transport.
Earlier this year, XPeng confirmed off a 2nd prototype of a flying passenger car which it says has been in pattern for eight years. And on Tuesday, it took the wraps off a four-legged “robotic unicorn,” as it pushes into new areas of business.
“With the enchancment of workmanship, the accomplish of mobility will evolve from wheels to wings, propellers, 4 legs or 2 feet,” He said, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language comments. “Skills ought to collected assist folk have greater and happier lives. This has always been my goal.”
The XPeng founder predicts that all automakers will develop into both car makers and robotics companies, a direction of He says may presumably take 10 to 30 years. XPeng is looking at robots as a transportation tool “in a low-velocity and random ambiance.”
“As it will get greater and smarter in the long accelerate, it may presumably assist us with some straight forward repetitive tasks. As the transportation tool becomes more and more intelligent, it may presumably assist us take on some tasks. That is how we envision it,” he said.
XPeng’s competitor Tesla is also investing in robotics. Last month, CEO Elon Musk said the company will secure a humanoid robot called Tesla Bot. Different companies have also confirmed off robots, including Boston Dynamics and Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi.
The X2, XPeng’s 2nd flying car prototype and first that’s able to carry a passenger, was unveiled in July.
Founder He said the company is building a research and pattern team that will “have a few hundred folk.”
“We want to introduce a flying car that can take off or land vertically, a low-to mid-altitude flying car.”
A collection of auto companies including Hyundai and China-based Geely are developing aerial vehicles. Different companies adore Guangzhou-based EHang are also working on passenger drones.
The XPeng founder said the company will have a press conference in the future, perhaps in a year, to talk about the scale and pricing as neatly as start taking pre-orders for its flying car.
Love many automakers, XPeng has been affected by the global shortage of semiconductors that skedaddle into vehicles. The company said its deliveries of vehicles fell in August versus July. XPeng has three cars on the market — the flagship P7 sedan, a cheaper sedan called the P5 and the G3 sports activities utility automobile.
The provision chain poses the “greatest challenge” for the company, however He sees it as a chance to secure resilience at the automaker.
“The pandemic has caused a shortage of semiconductor chips, which is the greatest blow to our business. I interrogate the chip shortage to ease in about 18 months from now. In the near future, the situation may presumably secure even worse,” he said.
“XPeng is a very young company. I inspect this as an early test. If we can overcome the challenge and secure ready for what’s to come, we shall be able to attain even greater when our sales reach 300,000 or 500,000 cars per year.”
Meanwhile, the company has pledged to push on with the release of new fashions. On Sept. 15, the company will officially launch its P5 sedan aimed at the mass market, after unveiling it in April. And from 2023, XPeng plans to launch at least two or three new automobile fashions every year. In preparation for that, the electrical carmaker is expanding its gain manufacturing capacity.
The CEO said that in the future the company will launch more cars in the range of 200,000 yuan ($30,968) to 400,000 yuan. At the moment, its cheapest car, the G3, starts at around 150,000 yuan. He also said that its fashions may presumably include larger 5-seat or 7-seat fashions. The company does no longer have a 7-seat model but.
XPeng has tried to pitch itself as various from its home rivals because it develops its gain in-house semi-autonomous driving features in a gadget called XPilot. Its latest model, XPilot 3.0, can be added into its cars as an optional extra and is a rival to Tesla’s Autopilot.
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In the first quarter of the year, XPeng said that it recorded earnings from software for the first time, which includes its assisted driving gadget XPilot. The founder said that whereas the majority of XPeng’s earnings is from hardware now, software shall be a “growing part” of that.
“My idea is that after we launch XPilot 4.0, we shall be able to focal point more on our software business,” He said, referring to the following-model of its restricted self-driving feature suite.
— CNBC’s Penny Chen contributed to this anecdote
Correction: This article has been updated to accurately mirror which model is the cheapest one XPeng has on the market.