Alibaba-backed Xpeng launches its newest, more powerful EV – to face backlash from owners of the old model

This is becoming a pattern in China’s fast-evolving and competitive EV space.

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Alibaba-backed Xpeng launches its newest, more powerful EV – to face backlash from owners of the old model

Guangzhou-based electric car startup Xpeng Motors, which is backed by Alibaba and other big name investors and regarded as a Tesla challenger in China, just launched its latest model the G3 2020 last Tuesday, in two versions.

But what should have been good news caused dismay among owners of the old model – a pattern which is becoming normal in the fast-evolving EV space.

Xpeng’s latest G3 400 has a range of 401 km without a recharging is priced starting at RMB 143,800 (close to USD 20,916) while the G3 520 with a range of 520 km starts at RMB 159,800. They’re scheduled to be delivered in September.

Owners of this model’s predecessor, the G3 2019 with a range of 365 km, which was priced between RMB 135,800 and RMB 165,800 weren’t too pleased with this development.

They complained via various channels such as on Xpeng Motors’ app, that they have been cheated, as the new models, with a longer range, are priced somewhat cheaper than the old models, which they only received as late as May, just two months ahead of the launch of the G3 2020.

Disgruntled owners asked for compensation, such as replacement of batteries to improve the range of their 2019 series cars, or to exchange their old models for new models for free, or even demanded a refund by returning their cars.

He Xiaopeng, the founder of Xpeng Motors, responsed on his personal Weibo account on Friday, trying to explain the situatio away as a misunderstanding as some just compared higher-end editions of G3 2020 with lower-editions of G3 2019.

Although denying that new models are priced below old models, he did apologize for making car owners “feel sad” in this way and promised to offer a RMB 10,000 subsidy if they or their relatives would buy or upgrade to any new Xpeng Motors vehicle within three years.

He also stated that his company cannot just simply replace batteries of old models to extend the range due to safety and legal concerns.

Furious car owners did not buy into his apology and considered his offer a disguised promotion. On Saturday some car owners came together to stage a protest in front of service centers in cities including Beijing and Guangzhou as reported by online news portal Jiemian.

But making models more and more attractive and  lowering prices to win customers is imperative for all car makers in China’s competitive landscape, including Tesla.

And the US-based EV maker had its own share of outraged customers after it introduced price cuts for newer models.

in March, Tesla cut lowered the prices of all cars that the company had on offer in China to between RMB 113,000 (USD 17,000) and RMB 341,100 (USD 51,000).

This move prompted some to protest in front of a Tesla store in Central China’s Changsha city.

It also almost triggered a class lawsuit from Chinese Tesla car owners as some of them bought their cars three days before the new pricing took effect. They later negotiated with dealers for a solution.