XPeng introduces a new EV platform designed to reduce production costs

Chinese electric vehicle maker XPeng unveiled its new vehicle manufacturing platform architecture on Sunday that will lay the foundation for future production models and reduce the cost of development and manufacturing.

Smart Electric Platform Architecture (SEPA) 2.0 is expected to shorten the R&D cycle for future models by 20%, as well as reduce the costs of adapting advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and intelligent information systems and entertainment at 70% and 85%, respectively. .

The modular and interchangeable vehicle platform will support a variety of vehicle types, such as XPeng’s upcoming G6 coupe SUV, which will debut at Auto Shanghai 2023 on Tuesday, Brian Gu, Xpeng’s president, told reporters on Sunday.

The G6 will be the first vehicle built on the SEPA 2.0 platform. Gu said that around 80% of the architectural components of each upcoming model will be compatible with future models, helping XPeng add to its lineup without incurring too much cost.

The cost-focused event comes as XPeng’s rivals have unleashed price wars in China. Tesla sparked a price war in October when the automaker slashed prices on models produced at its gigafactory in Shanghai. In January, Tesla added fuel to the fire with another discount that left its locally-built cars around 14% cheaper than in 2022.

Rivals including XPeng, Nio, Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz Group and Ford Motor followed suit, wreaking havoc on the already struggling auto market in China.

Last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers called for an end to the price war, saying it was not a long-term solution to low demand and excess inventory.

“The focus on the ability to offer attractive products at affordable prices becomes even more important,” Gu said on Sunday.

The G9 SUV, which hit the Chinese market last September, has a starting price of 309,900 RMB (~45,000 USD). XPeng’s P5 sedan starts at around 160,000 RMB (~25,000 USD).

XPeng has yet to share pricing for the G6, so it’s unclear what kind of pricing the automaker is aiming for with SEPA 2.0. XPeng CEO He Xiaopeng said on Sunday that a carmaker must hit 3 million units a year and worldwide if it wants to survive beyond a decade.

XPeng delivered 18,230 EVs in the first quarter of the year, nearly a 50% drop year-over-year. The company expects its new P7i sports sedan, new G6 and a yet-to-be-released 7-seat multi-purpose vehicle to help boost sales this year.

SEPA 2.0

XPeng’s SEPA 2.0 architecture includes integrated front and rear aluminum die-casting technologies, a practice Tesla has been using since 2020 to manufacture unique vehicle underbody parts.

XPeng said the platform will be compatible with multiple vehicle platforms for wheelbases between 1,800mm and 3,200mm, and can support a variety of vehicle types, from hatchbacks and sedans to MPVs and pickup trucks.

The architecture also incorporates “Cell Integrated Body” technology, which integrates the battery pack into the car body to provide more cabin space, increase battery safety and improve driving performance with an improved center of gravity.

The smart manufacturing system will be built by 2025, the company said, adding that all manufacturing facilities will integrate SEPA 2.0 through technology upgrades.

“We anticipate that this evolutionary smart architecture will lead the development of smart EV technology for the next three years,” Xiaopeng said. “It will make rapid advances in technology available to our customers as standard, with faster software updates, impressive cost savings, and an enhanced product experience.”

XPeng also said the new architectural platform can help make its infotainment service, Xmart OS, available to all owners. Xmart OS is XPeng’s smart cockpit of multi-sensor hardware and software, and a key feature is voice assistant. The automaker said on Sunday that SEPA 2.0 shortens the research and development cycle of voice software by 50% and reduces the cost of voice assistant service by 50%.

“Ultimately, SEPA 2.0 will empower us architecturally in our ongoing quest to redefine the mobility experience with compelling value, excellent convenience, and rich information and entertainment,” Xiaopeng said.

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