Along with Nio, Xpeng is the Chinese electric startup most closely trying to match Tesla's success. The automaker delivered 27,041 vehicles in 2020. That included Xpeng's first 100 models in Norway, marking the brand's European sales debut. A U.S. stock listing last year added more than $4 billion to its already healthy cash pile, enabling the company to finance plans to double its EV model range to four. Xpeng President and Vice Chairman Brian Gu discussed the company's plans for Europe and beyond with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Nick Gibbs.
Xpeng recently started selling the G3 electric SUV in Norway. Which other European markets are you targeting?
Europe is a big opportunity because the number of EVs sold there will beat China [in 2020]. But Europe also has a lot of incumbent brands, so we are taking our time and doing a thorough job. We are still discussing our execution plan for the rest of Europe. We have not finalized which countries will be next. That will be revealed in the next four months.
Aren't you worried that Xpeng might miss out on EV-friendly incentives in key markets?
We don't want to be late, but at the same time it's much more important to establish your brand and reputation properly when you're a new entrant. You do this by having the right infrastructure, the right sales and service, and the right brand recognition. It's easy to dump hundreds of vehicles on a country, but that's not how to develop a business.
How will you sell vehicles to Europeans?
It all depends on the country. In Norway, we are working with a local partner [Zero Emission Mobility] to handle sales and service functions. We will provide technical support and software updates. This is similar to what we do in China. We will reveal our plans for other countries later.
What is your plan for the U.S.?
The U.S. will be a more difficult country to crack. Europe is more our focus.