Home Tech We drove the latest rival to China’s Tesla Model Y

We drove the latest rival to China’s Tesla Model Y

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We drove the latest rival to China's Tesla Model Y

Xpeng takes pride in the technology in its cars. The G6 has 29 sensors, including five millimeter wave radars, 12 ultrasonic wave radars and 12 cameras, and is powered by an Nvidia Orin-X processor with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8155P chip.

All of this is used to run the in-house infotainment system (wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are apparently coming via a software update later this year) and the company’s XPilot safety system. This includes all the usual autonomous safety technology, such as emergency braking, blind-spot warnings, and traffic light recognition, plus the G6’s lane-keeping assist and active cruise control. As with so many modern cars, the G6 sometimes misreads traffic signs and incorrectly warns the driver about the speed limit.

There is no European equivalent to Tesla’s full (supervised) autonomous driving. So while the G6 can be purchased with lidar and more advanced semi-autonomous driving in China, that is missing from its EU offering.

As it stands, the system works quite well, but it’s not the most intuitive: Our test car didn’t make any kind of sound to indicate when the system was enabled or disabled, and none of the steering wheel buttons were used to control speed. . and distance are labeled. The result is that you will confuse the volume control with the speed adjuster on your first outing.

Lastly, the voice assistant responded quickly to “Hey Xpeng,” but until your understanding of English improves, it offers fewer features than in China. We asked him about the weather forecast, but he answered us with the car’s range. Better was how he understood a passenger who said “I’m cold” and raised the temperature only on that side.

Out in the cold

Should you buy the Xpeng G6? Massive import tariffs mean Chinese cars remain off the menu in the US, but if you’re in Europe, the G6’s competitive pricing could be attractive (but maybe not for much longer). It matches the Tesla Model Y in many key ways, and even beats its American rival on price, the upcoming inclusion of CarPlay and Android Auto, and ride quality.

But there’s still work to be done for the G6 to fully impress. It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to test the major UI update, called version 15, which will be released in July. But that at least shows that Xpeng is willing to evolve quickly, even if that means swapping out the entire mapping system for an alternative and reworking the UI design to accommodate smartphone streaming. We applaud him and look forward to seeing what other tech upgrades he has planned.

Having said all that, the G6 left us cold. It packs a lot of gear for the price, and a visit to Xpeng’s cavernous Dutch showroom suggests it means business, literally parking itself between the Kia and the Nio. It also has a roadmap for infrastructure expansion, partnering with existing service center groups to provide peace of mind for buyers. But there’s little here that really distinguishes the G6 from high-quality rivals like the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Škoda Enyaq, Ford Mustang Mach-E and, of course, the Tesla Model Y.

The upstarts need to offer something new. Tesla’s Supercharger network attracted customers during its early years; Nio offers battery change; BYD already had enormous scale on its side before entering Europe.

For now, Xpeng feels like a loser. The G6 is a standard electric vehicle that will appeal to drivers who want exactly this combination of size, range, price and fast charging, but don’t care about the badge. If that’s you, that’s fine, but for now the G6 does little to really get WIRED excited.

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