A Tesla-inspired electric car startup in China recently launched its own ride-hailing service, seemingly taking a page once more from the playbook of the Elon Musk-led American carmaker. Xpeng Motors (Xiaopeng), the company behind the initiative, has opted to utilize its own electric vehicle fleet for the service.
The Chinese electric car maker stands as the latest company which jumped into the ride-hailing market in China, an industry that is dominated by giants such as Didi Chuxing. The Tesla-inspired electric car maker has not discussed its fleet size or the specifics of its newly-launched service, though it has noted to local news agencies that its ride-hailing initiatives are aimed at providing “value-added services” for its customers, among others.
Xpeng Motors has been pretty open about the inspiration it takes from the activities of Tesla, previously noting that it sees the American electric car maker as a “benchmark.” In an interview last year, Xpeng founder and serial entrepreneur He Xiaopeng specifically stated that one of the reasons he founded his electric car company “was because Elon Musk made Tesla’s patents available.” He also shares Elon Musk’s optimism on electric propulsion, describing the venture is “exciting.”
In a way, Xpeng’s move into the ride-hailing market is partly a way for the company to future-proof itself. Electric cars are set to become mainstream, and they are also well-poised to transition into the autonomous driving era, which is expected to hit the mainstream transportation industry in the coming years. Tesla is set to be a key player in this emerging market as well, with Elon Musk targeting ride-hailing giants such as Uber and Lyft through the Tesla Network’s Robotaxi service.
The Tesla Network has been in the works for years, with Elon Musk writing about the concept of an autonomous ride-hailing service in his Master Plan Part Deux. Musk envisioned the Telsa Network to allow electric car owners to deploy their vehicles for ride-hailing, essentially allowing the electric cars to earn for their owners. In an investor call, Musk proved optimistic about the service, stating that the Tesla Network could push the company towards a $500 billion valuation.
Musk expects Tesla’s vehicles to be capable of operating on their own by next year, though it remains to be seen if the company could meet the CEO’s aggressive timeline for the service’s rollout.