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China's XPeng Officially launches the More Affordable P5 Fastback, the World's First Production Vehicle Equipped with Lidar

China's XPeng Officially launches the More Affordable P5 Fastback, the World's First Production Vehicle Equipped with Lidar

Author: Eric Walz   

Chinese electric vehicle startup XPeng unveiled its latest vehicle on Wednesday named the P5. The fully electric P5 fastback will compete with models like the Tesla Model 3 in China, which is the world's biggest auto market.

The new P5 follows the flagship P7 sedan which launched in 2020, and the G3 compact SUV, Xpeng's first vehicle which went on sale in Dec 2018.

The P5 is also the world's first production vehicle equipped with automotive-grade lidar technology to support safe autonomous driving. 

The more affordable P5 is immediately available for order in China with six different configurations available. The retail price ranges from RMB 157,900 to RMB 223,900 (US$24,484 to $34,717). 

Customer deliveries in China will start at the end of October.

The attractive price makes the P5 a serious competitor to Tesla's Model 3 in China's growing EV market. The P5 offers the same level of advancement as Tesla for around half the price of a comparably equipped Model 3.

The six versions of P5 provide driving ranges of 285 miles (460km), 342 miles (550km) and 373 miles (600km) depending on the configuration. The P5 comes with either a 55.9 kWh, 66.2 kWh or 71.4 kWh battery option. 

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All P5 versions have a heat pump air-conditioner as a standard. The heat pump improves range in cold weather by about 15%, according to XPeng. Range is further improved through aerodynamic efficiency, with a drag coefficient level as low as 0.22, making the P5 one of the world's most aerodynamic vehicles.

Xpeng is targeting younger, more tech-savvy buyers in China with the P5, as well as its other two models. It comes with advanced connectivity and smart features, including autonomous driving capability. Xpeng's models also support over-the-air software updates so customers always have the latest vehicle software installed.

"With the P5, we have delivered a new level in sophistication and technological advancement for smart EVs in China, at a competitive price point," said He Xiaopeng, Chairman & CEO of XPeng. "We believe this is an age of intelligence, and that intelligence will redefine mobility as a whole. Now we have made the best-in-class smart family sedan available at the RMB200,000 price range, bringing some of the most advanced driver assistance functionality to China's vast and fast-growing middle-class consumer base." 

The P5 is Packed with Advanced Technology

The P5 expands XPeng's autonomous driving feature called "Navigation Guided Pilot" (NGP). The feature originally worked on highways but now its being updated to work on secondary roads for point to point navigation.

The city version of NGP will allow for high-precision navigation that's specifically tailored to China's challenging city road conditions. NGP will also be upgraded to "NGP-L", which integrates with lidar for even safer automated driving on China's highways and expressways.

XPeng said the P5 includes its most advanced driver assistance hardware system to date to support NGP. The sensor suite includes 32 perception sensors as well as a high-precision positioning unit. 

The P5's automotive-grade lidar technology is used for the accurate recognition of vehicles, pedestrians or other small objects on the road. It works in tunnels, fog, rain, snow and at night.

The P5 includes a pair of double-prism lidar units that integrate with 12 ultrasonic radars, 5 millimeter-wave radars, 13 high-definition cameras for complete 360-degree coverage of the road environment.

"Introducing lidar technology into production vehicles is a breakthrough in popularizing autonomous driving, and an endorsement of our in-house R&D process," said Xpeng chairman and CEO He Xiaopeng during a presentation at Auto Guangzhou in Nov 2020. "Our customers will benefit from this premium advanced technology, which makes autonomous driving more driver-friendly, safe and effective."

The autonomous driving sensor suite is powered by Xpeng's XPILOT 3.5, the latest and most advanced version of the automaker's in-house-developed advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

XPeng's existing adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane centring control (LCC) features will also be upgraded and enhanced with lidar for the P5. The addition of lidar to these driver assist systems allows the P5 to recognize moving vehicles earlier and stationary vehicles more accurately, according to XPeng. It also offers increasing driving comfort in congested road conditions.

Other features of the P5 included automated parking, which is a popular feature for drivers in China, as parking in the country's crowded cities can be difficult. 

The P5 includes what XPeng's call Valet Parking Assist with "memory parking" (VPA-L). The P5 can memorize parking spaces and park itself in many situations.

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The P5's Advanced Cabin Features

Over the past year, XPeng said it collected feedback from customers in order to make improvements to the cabin. XPeng added recreational vehicle (RV) design principles to its sedan, resulting in a cockpit and interior space that can be reconfigured and converted into a "family living space."

"We have drawn inspiration from customers' feedback, especially during the pandemic, and from the best models in the conventional family sedan and recreational vehicle (RV) class, while taking functionality and features to a whole new level," said Mr. He.       

XPeng said the P5's interior prioritizes maximum comfort, with Nappa leather upholstery, foam padding and wide aviation-style headrests for passenger comfort. The interior space also includes a total of 26 storage compartments, including a large 450 cubic liter trunk space, plus an additional 70 liter storage compartment. 

Since a near silent electric vehicle can amplify road noise, Xpeng added Extensive NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) suppression using 32 hollow partitions and 40 sound-suppressing cotton pads, giving occupants a quiet peaceful ride.

One of coolest features is that the P5's interior can be reconfigured as a private full-width movie theater, with an 8-speaker Advanced Surround Sound System, a projection screen. The rear seats can also be put into "sleep mode", folding flat to serve as a full-length private sleeping compartment. Additional touches include a built-in refrigerator and a cabin air freshener with fragrance control.

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The P5's interior can convert into a personal movie theater.

In total, the new P5 represents XPeng's transition from an EV startup to a major player in China's growing EV segment in a span of five years. Just a few years ago Tesla faced little competition in China. Now companies like Xpeng, NIO Inc and Li Auto are emerging as strong competitors in China's highly competitive EV market. Xpeng's is expanding overseas as well.

In Sept 2020, Xpeng exported its first shipment of G3 SUVs to Europe, expanding its global presence. Last month XPeng shipped its first batch of P7 sedans to Norway

XPeng's entry into Europe now gives EV pioneer Tesla some new competition in Norway, especially for its flagship Model S. The rollout of the P7 sedan in Norway is the next step in XPeng's strategy to develop its presence outside China. 

XPeng said it sees tremendous opportunities to expand to global markets as its looks to take on Tesla and others. With the addition of the new P5 to its model lineup, XPeng now has three advanced electric vehicles on the market and it appears that its rapid growth is just beginning.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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