The race for EV (electric vehicle) dominance is heating up as Chinese contender XPeng gears up for expansion. This would challenge Tesla – currently considered as the industry leader – on the global stage.

XPeng, based out of Guangzhou in China, has ambitious plans to reportedly export its state-of-the-art driving tech to international markets this year, with the second phase of its expansion set for 2025. 

Meanwhile, Tesla is facing its own hurdles back home, navigating a  $1.5 million hazardous waste lawsuit in California. The company is also dealing with the fallout of Elon Musk’s exorbitant $55 billion pay package.

XPeng’s recent successes

The EV company released its vehicle delivery stats for January 2024, showing a 58% year-over-year increase after recording monthly deliveries of 8,250 Smart EVs. This follows the launch of XPeng’s X9 Ultra Smart Large Seven-seater SUV. 

Apart from its global ambitions, the startup’s proprietary advanced driver assistance systems, XNGP, rolled out across 243 cities in China. Since more than 85% of XPeng’s customers actively use this system, the company is now regarded as a leader in the industry

The next step is to bring this coverage to all major city roads, parking spaces and private roads across China before the end of this year. Additionally, XPeng is also developing a version of this system for highways in international markets, earmarked for global expansion by 2025.

XPeng versus Tesla

During the X9 launch event earlier this week, XPeng founder and CEO Xiaopeng He said the company is excited about introducing its smart driving tech to international markets. This software is the equivalent of Tesla’s Full-Self Driving (FSD) autonomous system. 

Instead of using high-definition maps for navigation, the map-free XNGP system relies on lidar and radar sensors. This gives it an edge since it can detect and adjust real-time road and traffic conditions. 

Term behind the tech: Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) uses radio waves to detect objects and their speed, while lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) uses laser light to measure objects and distances. 

XPeng currently ships vehicles to Israel, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, and plans to expand to Germany, France and the UK before the end of this year. 

Tesla’s hazardous waste lawsuit

Meanwhile in California in the US, Tesla is navigating a tricky lawsuit for allegedly, repeatedly mishandling hazardous waste at some of its facilities. The company, which owns 57 car service centers and 18 solar energy facilities in California, is currently being audited. 

In a statement released by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office on February 1, 2024, said the lawsuit “underscores our commitment to environmental stewardship.” After inspection at Tesla facilities. 

The following violations were noted: 

  • Unlawful disposal of lubricating oils, brake cleaners, lead acid, aerosols, antifreeze, waste solvents, electronic waste, and waste paint.  
  • Unlawful disposal of additional hazardous wastes, such as metal car panel welding spatter waste (which can contain copper), waste paint mix cups produced during paint repair, and wipes and debris contaminated with primer.

District attorney Ron Freitas said Tesla participated during the audit and subsequent investigations, and was “proactively taking steps to elevate its compliance with environmental protection laws.” 

Tesla was also ordered to pay $1.3 million in civil penalties and $200,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. In addition, the company must “comply with a detailed injunction for five years.”

This includes the “proper training of employees and the hiring of a third party to conduct annual waste audits of its trash containers at ten percent of its facilities,” the county’s DA office said. 

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.