Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc. is the latest manufacturer hoping to save money and speed development and production by shifting to a digital vehicle architecture - an approach that bears a striking resemblance to Tesla Inc.
Unveiled this week ahead of the Shanghai auto show, Xpeng's Smart Electric Platform Architecture 2.0 has essentially the same foundation that Tesla has developed over the past two years with the Model Y: large single-piece front and rear underbody castings, joined in the center by a massive battery pack that helps to reinforce the vehicle body structure.
The first Xpeng model to use the SEPA 2.0 platform, a compact crossover called G6, was unveiled at the 2023 Shanghai show and is also startlingly close in dimensions and shape to the Model Y. Xpeng has said the G6 will be priced from just under $30,000, nearly $10,000 less than the lowest-priced Shanghai-built Model Y.
"It's obvious the design of the (G6) came from the Model Y," industry analyst Sandy Munro told Reuters. "This is not a surprise. (Tesla CEO) Elon Musk has said he knows other companies are going to copy him."
Six-year-old Xpeng is one of several Chinese newcomers, a group that includes Nio and Li Auto, competing not only with Tesla but more established domestic manufacturers, including market leader BYD and Geely.