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Buyers grumble over Xpeng's sales tactic

Guangzhou-based electric car startup Xpeng Motors is the focus of complaints after it revamped its G3 vehicle just seven months after it was launched. 

Xpeng Motors, an electric car startup based in Guangzhou, is facing complaints from previous buyers after it introduced a revamped model with a longer driving range just seven months after its first vehicle hit the Chinese market.

Owners parked their cars outside the company's headquarters on July 13, demanding replacements or refunds. Buyers of the original model claimed that the revamped model is cheaper with a longer driving distance.

Xpeng launched its G3 2020 edition sport-utility vehicle on July 10, a revamped version of the G3 2019 edition launched in December. Buyers of the earlier version learned that the new model had a range of 520 kilometers compared with their 365 kilometers. 

They also complained that when they bought the 2019 edition they were not told that a revamped model would be launched in July.

One owner, who declined to be named, said most buyers received their cars in late March, though the model was launched in December of 2018. “I got my own G3 2019 in April and the revamped version came out just three months later,” he said. “I felt I had been cheated because the latest version has a longer driving distance with better configuration and similar prices with the old one.”

According to Xpeng’s website, the G3 2020 edition has six models, with prices between 143,800 yuan (US$20,913) and 196,800 yuan after government subsidies. The G3 2019 edition was priced between 155,800 yuan to 199,800 yuan after government subsidies.

He Xiaopeng, Xpeng’s CEO Motors, apologized on the company’s Weibo account on July 12 and offered a 10,000-yuan rebate to owners of the 2019 edition who wanted to replace their models in the next three years.

He said the actual prices of the G3 2019 edition were lower than those of the 2020 edition. He said there had been a misunderstanding with consumers comparing the price of the medium and high configurations of the 2019 edition with the lower configuration of the 2020 edition.

According to a survey on Weibo, more than 14,000 users voted against the company’s compensation plan, accounting for 48.6 percent of all participants.

Zhang Xiaofeng, an independent market analyst, said the problem occurred when the company revamped its products within a year and car owners were worried about the value of their older models. Zhang added that electric car startups want to seize the market share so they would launch their vehicles at a fast speed with prices lower than expected. The market was not mature enough as there are more than 50 electric car startups in the Chinese market, he said.

Data from the China Passenger Car Association showed that Xpeng delivered a total of 7,359 units of the G3 2019 edition from January to May this year.

Xpeng, founded in 2014, is one of the most prominent electric car startups in China. Other electric car startups including NIO and WM Motor Technology Co have investors from both the mainstream auto industry and Internet-related businesses.

Xpeng Motors has received funding from Chinese and international investors including Alibaba Group and IDG Capital.

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