Chinese Automaker Unveils Autonomous Driving System to Challenge Tesla Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA)

With only a couple of electric vehicle models under its belt, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) managed to become the largest car company in the world, surpassing companies that had been in the game for much longer. But despite its lofty perch at the top of the young EV industry, the California-based EV maker faces stiff competition from upcoming Chinese ventures. Chinese EV makers such as Xpeng and NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) produce high-quality electric vehicles (“EVs”), and they are looking to dominate the growing China market, the largest EV market in the world.

In a not-so-subtle challenge to Tesla’s autonomous driving system, Navigate on Autopilot (“NoA”), Xpeng has unveiled autonomous driving features for highway driving. The new autonomous features, dubbed Navigation Guided Pilot (“NGP”), will be available on Xpeng’s flagship P7 sedan. NGP will allow the electric vehicle to enter and exit highways, automatically change lanes, speed up or slow down and to overtake cars.

The P7 sedan, which is a direct rival to Tesla’s bestselling Model 3, has been called China’s Model 3. Xpeng began making mass deliveries last June, delivering a total of  27,041 vehicles in 2020. The sedan’s NGP system is part of Xpeng’s next-generation XPILOT 3.0 advanced driver-assistance system (“ADAS”). The Chinese EV maker is looking to launch the system, which has some autonomous features but still requires a driver, in the first quarter of 2021.

Before drivers can turn the highway driving function on, they will first have to watch a safety video. Note that drivers will have to keep their hands on the steering wheel when using the autonomous driving features. Once drivers enter their destinations into the map, features such as automatic lane switching will switch on. The EV will warn drivers when they need to take over manual control in case situations like adverse weather or road accidents arise.

According to Xpeng, its electric vehicles are equipped with a perception suite that includes 14 cameras, five millimeter-wave radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors to support autonomous driving functions. The company’s XPILOT 3.0 advanced driver-assistance system is powered by Nvidia’s self-driving supercomputer Drive Xavier. The NGP system will be available only to customers in China and will be installed initially on the premium version of Xpeng’s P7 sedan.

Xpeng isn’t the only Chinese EV maker to launch its own advanced driver assistance system. In April 2020, NIO announced the introduction of two ADAS systems designed for its ES6 and ES8 NIO models. Navigation On Pilot (“NOP”) allows drivers to merge lanes as well as cruise in accordance with parking routes, overtake, and drive on and off-ramp while Self Automatic Parking Assist with Fusion (S-APA with Fusion) provides automated parking assist.

The die has been cast, and it is now upon customers to give their verdict of which autonomous driving system is superior!

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