Alibaba-backed EV startup XPeng raises $400m for growth

Sales of new energy vehicles in China have witnessed a decline in 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 November 2019

Alibaba-backed EV startup XPeng raises $400m for growth

HONG KONG, BEIJING: Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer XPeng, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said on Wednesday it has raised $400 million from investors including Xiaomi Corp. to fund its growth.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier about the fundraising and about Xiaomi being an investor.

The fundraising comes at what bankers and industry insiders describe as an increasingly tough financing environment for Chinese EV startups which must jostle for attention in a crowded sector and produce convincing arguments about future profitability despite government cuts to EV subsidies and plans to phase them out.

XPeng, which announced the fundraising in a statement, did not comment on its valuation. But the sources said the latest fundraising valued the five-year-old firm, led by 42-year-old tech entrepreneur He Xiaopeng, at nearly $4 billion, higher than the 25 billion yuan ($3.57 billion) valuation in the last funding round.

The dollar fundraising comes as Guangzhou-based XPeng, which has mostly raised yuan-denominated capital, mulls going public in the coming years, with New York among one of possible listing venues, the people said. It is also considering Hong Kong and Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style tech board, said one of them.

With Xiaomi, XPeng will explore more applications of smartphone technologies on intelligent connected vehicles, said one of the sources.

“The signing of the new fundraising, which not only attracted new strategic investors such as Xiaomi Corporation but also received strong support from many of our current shareholders, is a renewed endorsement of our long-term strategy,” XPeng Chief Executive He said in the statement.

The proceeds will be mainly used for research and development of autonomous driving-related software, mass production of its G3 sport-utility vehicle model and P7 sedan, branding and expanding its retail network, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the matter was private.

XPeng also secured “several billions” of yuan-dominated unsecured credit lines from banks including China Merchants Bank, China CITIC Bank and HSBC, the statement said, without specifying figures.


China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

Updated 12 December 2019

China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

  • China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane
  • China was first country to ground plane in March

BEIJING: China’s aviation regulator raised “important concerns” with Boeing Co. on the reliability and security of design changes to the grounded 737 MAX, it said on Thursday, but declined to comment on when the plane might fly again in China.
China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane based on proposed changes to software and flight control systems according to a bilateral agreement with the United States, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) spokesman Liu Luxu told reporters at a monthly briefing.
He reiterated that for the plane to resume flights in China, it needed to be re-certified, pilots needed comprehensive and effective training to restore confidence in the model and the causes of two crashes that killed 346 people needed to be investigated with effective measures put in place to prevent another one.
China was the first country to ground the 737 MAX after the second crash in Ethiopia in March and had set up a task force to review design changes to the aircraft that Boeing had submitted.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the 737 MAX to resume flying before the end of 2019, its chief, Steve Dickson, said on Wednesday.
Once the FAA approves the reintroduction into service, the 737 MAX can operate in the United States, but individual regulators could keep the planes grounded in other countries until they complete their own reviews.
“Due to the trade war, the jury is still out on when China would reintroduce the aircraft,” said Rob Morris, Global Head of Consultancy at Ascend by Cirium.
Chinese airlines had 97 737 MAX jets in operation before the global grounding, the most of any country, according to Cirium Fleets Analyzer.