Autos

'Tesla reminds me of Apple,' says the president of a Chinese start-up

Key Points
  • Tesla's potential move into the Chinese electric vehicle market should be welcomed, according to the president of a Chinese start-up.
  • "Tesla reminds me of Apple. It educated the high end market for China, but it also spurred a lot of competitive, diverse brands like Xiaomi and Huawei to come up with really cool and affordable products," said Brian Gu, the vice chairman and president of Xpeng Motors.
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Targeting the 'middle' segment for electric vehicles in China

Talk of an imminent Tesla move into the Chinese electric vehicle market has grown with Beijing's removal of foreign ownership caps, but the American company's arrival will be welcomed, according to the president of a Chinese electric vehicle start-up.

"Tesla reminds me of Apple. It educated the high-end market for China, but it also spurred a lot of competitive, diverse brands like Xiaomi and Huawei to come up with really cool and affordable products," said Brian Gu, the vice chairman and president of Xpeng Motors.

Similar reactions can be expected for Tesla's entry into China's electric vehicle market, he said, adding that Chinese companies will become more competitive as a result. The Alibaba- and Foxconn-backed company is also confident in its ability to take on Tesla in the current market, Gu told CNBC's Nancy Hungerford.

"I think Xpeng has a different approach because we are local, a lot of our features are designed for the China market," he said, citing smart parking, mapping and auto-navigation systems that are customized for the Chinese market. "So we feel like we are a lot more local and we can take on Tesla in this market," he said.

Strategically, the company is looking to establish itself in the local market and is not looking to expand operations beyond the country yet, Gu said.