Chinese Smart EV maker Xpeng has successfully launched its latest design with over 30,000 orders already on its books. To put that into perspective, the total number of EVs sold in the UK for November 2023 was 24,359. The company sees itself as targeting a growing base of technology-savvy middle-class consumers with its mission to integrate as much smart-tech as possible into every vehicle. What makes the X9 different and could it succeed in the UK?
Headquartered in Guangzhou, China with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, San Diego and Amsterdam, Xpeng has talked about plans to bring its high-tech/affordable electric vehicles to the UK later this year. While the special launch price of RMB 359,800 translates to £39,920, we all know that the actual price landed in a UK forecourt/customer drive way is likely to be higher, but that launch price at least gives us some indication as to which market sector is being targeted. So what about the specification?
The X9 will be around 5.3m long (which is similar to an Audi A8), a fraction under 2m wide and just under 1.8m tall – all of which combine to create a sense of space internally. Despite its length, it has rear-wheel active steering which means it can turn in 10.8m – tighter than any other car in this class, according to Xpeng.
Performance-wise, it will come in front wheel drive (FWD) and all wheel drive (AWD) versions. Both have a 235kW motor driving the front wheels, with the AWD coming with an additional 135kW rear motor. Battery capacities are 84.5 and 101.5kWh – and the platform itself is based on 800v electricals. We're anticipating a top speed of 110mph to 125mph with a 0-60 acceleration rumoured to be 4 to 6.4 seconds.
As far as we can tell, there are no certified WLTP figures available for range yet, but we'd anticipate numbers in the 300 to 360 mile range – depending on the battery pack.
Having learned a lot from its first generation of electric vehicles, Xpeng has brought all of that knowledge together in order to create its SEPA (Smart Electric Platform Architecture) 2.0 platform. The idea is to be as modular as possible – without losing design flexibility. The ability to ‘drag-n-drop features into a new design, without needing to retool entire sections of your plant, should make it faster/cheaper to being new models to market. The G6 SUV was launched back in April 2023 using SEPA 2.0, so Xpeng has had plenty of time to refine the process. Targeting a 30% improvement in R&D efficiency, alongside better/faster software development and the additional safety/stability that comes from being able to use standard electricals – should give Xpeng a price advantage Vs many Western car companies.
We've focused on the physical size and basic tech specs of the X9, but it will win or lose on ride comfort and integrated technologies as much as it will from raw power, range and acceleration stats.
Equipped with full-stack, in-house developed smart technologies like Xpeng Navigational Guided Pilot (XNGP) – the company's Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), the X9 aims to redefine the MPV segment with innovative design and exceptional product performance.
This flagship model features a class-leading three-row seating design, offering the most spacious third row in the MPV segment. In addition to the generous seating layout, the X9's third-row versatility provides ample cargo space to cater to individualized needs, according to Xpeng. Alongside the active rear-wheel steering, it is also claims (at launch) the be the only Chinese car model equipped with intelligent double-chamber air suspension as standard.
The sleek body lines, coupled with 17 optimized anti-drag features, result in an ultra-low 0.227Cd drag coefficient. With a groundbreaking 21° A-pillar incline angle and a 23° inclining rear windshield, the X9's design evokes the concept of a starship from the future while delivering exceptional range performance and energy efficiency.
In addition to the traditional luxury and comfort of MPVs, the XPENG X9 introduces more tech-savvy elements, offering a comfortable smart cockpit tailored for family-sharing scenarios. Alongside a central panel, the X9 features a 21.4″ entertainment screen, the largest in its class, providing comprehensive infotainment support for shared family experiences.
Access to the third row of seats is easy, with a 180mm-wide central aisle in the cabin – allowing adults to move freely between the second and third rows. It also features 1100mm-long electric slide rails for adjusting the second-row seats and a class-leading cabin height of 1315mm, ensuring easy access to all seats, especially the third row. The X9 also offers a hidden cargo space with a maximum storage capacity of 2,554 litres, ensuring plenty of luggage space for all passengers.
How comfortable? Well, Xpeng describes the seats as “zero-gravity reclining sofas with unique adjustable power headrests and backrests”. Sounds comfortable enough. The X9's cockpit features a ventilation system called X Free breath and the world's first wrap-around central AC with quiet and gentle airflow, along with a smart built-in fridge that can be adjusted from 0-50℃.
Mr. He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO of XPENG, commented, “The X9 exemplifies our commitment to innovation as we strive to make XPENG's industry-leading smart EV technology and state-of-the-art design craftsmanship appealing to a wider range of progressively individualized consumer needs. In the face of an increasingly competitive NEV market, we are unwavering in our commitment to delivering next-generation Smart EV experiences through our full-stack in-house technology development, smart manufacturing, and comprehensive sales and service network.”
Based on the pictures, performance and dimension numbers – if this vehicle launched in the UK close to £39,920, then it would cause a storm. Based only on the descriptions, you'd be looking at something like the VW ID.Buzz to get a similar set up – and that would be closer to £60,000.
If you were forced to buy a European EV for the same price, then your £39,920 would get you something like a Cupra Born.
Easy to see why Western manufacturers are worried. No wonder VW was keen to partner with MG-makers SAIC and Xpeng.
If you'd like to register your interest, head over to Xpeng here.