Can fledgling brand Xpeng succeed in Europe?

Can fledgling brand Xpeng succeed in Europe?

Amid the slew of Chinese electric car start-ups that have launched in recent years, Xpeng has undeniably emerged as one of the most interesting.

The company, based in the southern megacity of Guangzhou, has caused quite a stir with bullish sales predictions, some genuinely interesting breakthrough tech on the road and, in the air, the evolution of its frankly remarkable ‘flying cars’. 

It’s an obvious characterisation to paint it as ‘China’s Tesla’ but Elon Musk must surely admire Xpeng’s ability to capture headlines in its domestic market, and it certainly made many in the West sit up and take notice when vice chairman and president Brian Gu said in early September: “Most of our future sales will come from international markets, maybe half.”

At the same time, the company has been undergoing something of a bumpy period, with sales in China declining by almost 50% year on year in October to 5101 – the third consecutive month it had registered a tally of under 10,000. At the time of writing, a restructure at executive level was being finalised, according to reports in the Chinese media, while there has also been a dramatic drop in stock value – around 80% year on year.

However, this turbulence hasn’t dented its international ambitions. Even though Chinese brands have no legacy in Europe, the brand is confident it can convince buyers here. “While it may be challenging, it is not impossible,” a spokesperson for Xpeng told Tausi Insider Business, citing an award – as most recognised new brand – that it has already picked up in a Kantar car index survey in Norway, a mature EV market, as a sign of tangible progress. “[This] bodes well for the rest of our European expansion.”

She continued: “Great opportunities abound in Europe over the next few years, buoyed by consumers’ rising demand and government incentives. We have successfully opened our brand experience stores in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam, and our teams, including marketing, sales, after-sales, and customer services have all been [put] in place.

“And yes, Xpeng has plans to come to the United Kingdom soon, as part of our long-term commitment to accelerating the electrification process in Europe.”

Nevertheless, it’s entirely reasonable to look at recent events – particularly the disappointing sales figures in China – and wonder if the confidence is wholly justified. In particular, a slow start for its luxurious G9, hailed as the “world’s fastest-charging” electric SUV, seems to have caused some of the internal ructions.

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