Xpeng Motors on Monday launched its first sedan model P7, boasting a range of 706 km (439 miles) and what it claimed the best-performed autonomous driving hardware stack among locally-produced vehicles.

Why it matters: One of the few sedan models launched by Tesla’s major Chinese challengers, P7 is now placed in direct competition against the China-made Model 3. It also brings the company one step closer to the premium market.

  • This comes in the midst of a legal battle over a former Tesla employee who allegedly stole trade secrets for the Alibaba-backed EV maker.
  • Tesla in January asked a judge to force Xpeng to disclose its entire autonomous driving source code and images of computer hard drives from various employees.
  • Tesla has not brought a lawsuit against Xpeng due to insufficient evidence.

“I strongly believe that P7 will provide the best driver assist experience in China.”

—He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO during the online press conference

Details: The electric sports sedan P7 is available for order with a price tag of RMB 244,900 ($34,600) after subsidies.

  • The car has a 439-mile range on an 81 kwh battery pack custom-built by China’s CATL.
  • This makes P7 by far the mass production EV with the longest-driving range available in China, according to information revealed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month.
  • In a video review made by Chinese media and revealed by Xpeng during an online press event, P7 achieved a range of 567 km in a test on urban roads and express highways, versus the 509 km of an imported long range version of Tesla Model 3.
  • P7 was also touted China’s first “L3 autonomy-ready” production vehicle, equipped with Nvidia’s self-driving supercomputer Drive Xavier, as well as a perception suite including 14 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and five millimeter-wave radars.
  • Featuring a detection distance over 200 meters and a 360-degree field of vision, the stack would enable Level 3 autonomy via a consistent over-the-air (OTA) software update for its Xpilot system.
  • He added more advanced assisted driving functions will be available next year, including navigation guided pilot (NGP), a feature similar to Tesla’s navigate on autopilot (NOA) allowing autonomous lane change on highways.

Context: Ranging from RMB 229,900 all the way up to RMB 349,900, the P7 is Xpeng’s second mass production model.

  • Xpeng in late 2018 released its first production model G3, an entry-level sports utility vehicle with a starting price of RMB 135,800 after subsidy.
  • The company has delivered a total of 16,608 cars as of 2019, around half of Nio, which started delivery half year earlier.
  • Nio president Qin Lihong said the company was accelerating the release of a sedan model by the end of this year in an livestream on the company’s app.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen