Xpeng Motors has rolled out its new P7 electric sports car in China, with an eye on stimulating consumer demand in an industry hammered by a domestic economic slowdown, reduced government subsidies and the coronavirus pandemic . “Our ability to launch the P7 in the challenging conditions of the Covid-19 crisis is a testament to the strength of our young company,” said He Xiaopeng, co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Guangzhou-based Xpeng, at the car’s online launch on Monday. The company’s second production model, which follows its G3 electric sport utility vehicle’s commercial release in 2018, is now available for order in China in three versions and eight configurations. Deliveries will start at the end of June, priced from 229,900 yuan to 349,900 yuan (US$32,462 to US$49,404) after subsidies. That price range would make the P7 highly competitive with the China-made Model 3 electric vehicle from Tesla, which raised the car’s floor price to 303,550 yuan after the Ministry of Finance announced a three-year programme to cut subsidies on new energy vehicles. Chinese electric car maker Xpeng gets green light for P7 road tests in US to take on Tesla The launch of the P7, which Xpeng unveiled in the Auto Shanghai show in April last year, comes at a time when China’s car industry is searching for momentum to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic, which has upended sales and manufacturing in the world’s largest car market. Car sales in China fell for the 21st consecutive month in March. First-quarter sales totalled 3.7 million vehicles, down 42 per cent from a year ago, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Still, company founder He said the P7, whose list of features were benchmarked against those of Tesla, “solidifies Xpeng Motors’ leading position in China’s smart EV market”. The P7 is the first Level 3 autonomous driving-ready production vehicle in China, according to Xpeng. Level 3 vehicles are able to drive from point A to point B based on certain road conditions. In case of an emergency, drivers are expected to take control of the car. That capability is supported by integrating 12 ultrasonic sensors, five millimetre wave radars and 14 cameras, which provide the P7 with 360-degree perception. The car also has a longer driving range of up to 706 kilometres per charge, compared with existing models from Tesla and other EV makers in China. The P7’s intelligent cockpit, powered by the in-car mini app from Alibaba Group Holding, is designed to interact with driver and passengers through voice commands, infotainment and a concert hall-standard 600-watt Dynaudio surround-sound audio system. Xpeng is backed by Alibaba, which is the parent company of the South China Morning Post . While other domestic EV companies are struggling, Xpeng managed to raise US$400 million in new financing last year. Xpeng has no plans to cut staff or pursue furloughs, according to a company spokeswoman in response to a text inquiry for comment. Tesla escalates battle against Xpeng over alleged theft of robocar secrets Xpeng, however, has recently been dragged into controversy. Tesla has continued to pursue its allegation that a former employee – engineer Cao Guangzhi, who joined Xpeng’s US affiliate XMotors in 2017 – stole the company’s Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system. In a civil suit, Tesla has asked a judge at a federal court in San Francisco, California, to force Xpeng to disclose the source of its autonomous-driving source code, turn over images of computer hard drives and even make an employee available for an interview. “We are confident that we have engaged in no wrongdoing that we have fully cooperated with Tesla for months, including voluntarily providing our own confidential information,” Xpeng said in a statement on Tuesday. “After months of litigation, Tesla has failed to show any credible evidence that XMotors ever possessed, let alone used, any Tesla information from Dr Cao.” Xpeng indicated that Tesla has declined to bring litigation against XMotors. “Tesla’s overreach and distortions confirm this is just a fishing expedition meant to bully and disrupt a young competitor,” Xpeng said.