Two of Xpeng Motors’ vice presidents are stepping down after more than five years in their respective roles as the EV maker carries out a wider leadership restructuring, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Why it matters: The departures are Xpeng’s latest leadership reshuffle after it appointed Wang Fengying, a former executive at Great Wall Motor, as the company president on Jan. 30. Xpeng is undertaking a drastic reorganization in the hopes of turning its prospects around as falling sales add to its stresses in an increasingly competitive EV market.
- The reshuffle is also meant to help chief executive He Xiaopeng reinforce his control over the company and give more weight to Wang, the sources said. Industry observers expect Wang to guide Xpeng through these difficult times.
Details: Liu Minghui, a long-standing vice president of powertrain engineering at Xpeng, stepped down last month after more than five years in the role and was replaced by Gu Jie, who recently joined the company from US auto supplier Delphi.
- Gu will report directly to CEO He Xiaopeng. Xpeng is looking to improve its development and manufacturing competitiveness, especially regarding electric powertrain and battery-related technologies, one of the sources told TechNode.
- As part of the overhaul, Liao Qinghong, a vice president of sales and chief of talent at Xpeng, handed over some of his responsibilities to Yi Han, a former executive at Geely, in preparation for leaving the company.
- Before joining Xpeng earlier this year, Yi led marketing efforts and brand execution for Volvo, Lynk & Co, and Smart within the Geely Group for more than a decade, public records show.
- The ongoing reorganization will dilute the authority of some founding members, a potential hindrance to the company’s refocus on efficiency and profitability, according to one of the sources and a third person with knowledge of the situation.
- This significant change follows the late January appointment of president Wang to a role that includes responsibility for major operations from vehicle planning to sales management, roles that used to be overseen by co-founder Henry Xia and Liao, respectively.
- An Xpeng spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by TechNode on Thursday. Chinese tech media 36Kr first reported the news.
Context: Xpeng has made a series of moves over the past months as it hopes to drive sales back up amid growing competition from larger players. Soaring battery material prices have also weighed on the company’s profitability in the past year.
- The Guangzhou-based automaker set up multiple cross-functional teams to encourage collaboration and boost efficiency last October, followed by new measures aimed at lowering costs and streamlining the company’s workflow weeks later.
- The company is rushing to launch two all-new vehicles and three redesigned models in the hope of reaching a modest delivery target of around 200,000 vehicles this year. P7i, a revamped version of the company’s best-selling model P7, launched sales on Friday with a starting price of RMB 249,900 ($35,904).
- Meanwhile, sales of the G9 crossover, initially supposed to be a flagship, high-volume model, flagged to 2,249 units in January from 4,020 units a month earlier, following heated criticism of pricing and specs from customers when it was launched in September. The company delivered a total of 6,010 vehicles last month without specifying the breakdown of models.
- Xpeng’s total deliveries were 11,228 units during the first two months of this year, falling further behind rivals Li Auto and Nio, who delivered 31,761 and 20,663 vehicles respectively. Li Auto reported a gross margin of 20.2% as of the fourth quarter of 2022, while Nio’s margin plunged to 3.9%. Xpeng generated a 13.5% gross margin as of the third quarter of last year.
READ MORE: Despite recovery in February, Chinese EV makers still face challenges as costs and competition increase
TechNode Chinese reporter Zheng Huimin contributed to the reporting of this story.