The Chinese clones of the Tesla arrive: cheaper and with level 3 automation

The Xpeng P7 is more than just a Chinese Tesla clone; it is the demonstration that electric and semi-autonomous cars do not have to be exclusive.

Xpeng P7

Chinese manufacturer Xpeng Motors has announced the launch this month of the P7, calling it a “smart vehicle” that will be able to reach autonomy level 3, making it capable of taking control in many situations.

Oh, and it looks like a copy of the Tesla, a kind of mix between Model S and Model 3; Maybe it sounds too harsh and critical with Xpeng, but the truth is that it is not something that bothers us. Far from that, we believe that it was time for a car like this to come out.

The Xpeng P7 is a saloon, something quite rare in a market dominated by SUVs, with a design clearly inspired by that of the Tesla, but with its own details such as headlights separated into two groups (like the Citröen). We can not say that it is ugly, although it is all a matter of taste.

More than just a Chinese Tesla clone
The interesting thing is not that there is a Chinese Tesla clone; is that on paper you do not have much to envy. For example, although we don’t know what batteries it has, the P7 could go head-to-head against the Model 3 on a journey.

According to Xpeng, the Chinese government measured the range of the P7 at 706 kilometers, although in the NEDC cycle; instead, the Model 3 with greater range measured 675 kilometers, but it was an old test. With both numbers getting a little closer, the P7 should already be very attractive to a lot of people.

But the true strength of Xpeng is not that, it aims to be the first accessible car that is really smart. To do this, the P7 relies on Nvidia’s Drive AGX Xavier platform to manage and drive the car semi-autonomously.

Throughout its entire body, the P7 has 12 ultrasonic sensors, five high-precision radars, and 13 exterior and interior cameras; Nvidia’s system is capable of analyzing all the data coming from these devices and making independent decisions.

Level 3 autonomous car

The P7 would be a level 3 autonomous car, so it would be able to carry out actions such as changing lanes and overtaking without input from the driver; however, you need the driver’s attention at all times, so that we can take control in case it makes the wrong decision.

Xpeng claims that this mode will allow us to let the car drive only in controlled environments like highways, similar to the Tesla Autopilot. In addition, you can also drive on some urban roads and in parking lots. In these situations, the redundancies in the data will be vital to avoid making a mistake, and hence the number of integrated sensors and cameras.

We don’t know how it will compare to the Tesla Autopilot and other similar solutions, but that almost doesn’t matter; because the important thing is that Xpeng will offer all this for a ground-breaking price. The basic model of the P7 will be available for 240,000 yuan, that is about $33,900, and based on options the price can end at 370,000 yuan ($52,200) for top the line model.

An electric car, with that range and that technology for that price, is to be feared; The cheapest Model 3 sold in China costs almost 300,000 yuan ($42,300), so the P7 will be stiff competition.

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