May 19, 2020 / 4:40 AM / 8 days ago

Alibaba-backed Xpeng starts sedan production at new plant, eyes showroom expansion

FILE PHOTO - People look at XPeng's P7 sedan model displayed at the Guangzhou auto show in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China November 22, 2019. Picture taken November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Yilei Sun

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Xpeng, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK), said on Tuesday it has starting producing its new P7 sedan at its fully-owned Zhaoqing car plant after receiving a government production licence.

Xpeng spent 3 billion yuan ($422 million) on the P7 sedan project and the firm has been investing 700 million yuan each year on intelligent vehicle research and development, Xpeng’s chief executive He Xiaopeng told Reuters in an interview.

The EV maker, which began mass-delivery of its G3 sports utility in March 2019, also plans to expand its showroom network in China, the world’s biggest auto market, to over 200 stores by the end of the year from about 150 sites now, He said.

The company would have have “some funding activities in the third or fourth quarter this year,” He added, but did not give further details.

The new plant, in China’s southern city of Zhaoqing, will initially make Xpeng’s P7 sedans. The Guangzhou-based company has been building the G3 sports utility in Zhengzhou at a plant owned by Haima Automobile (000572.SZ).

He said Xpeng has secured a large batch of car parts in February and March, which would shield the company from the current disruption to the global auto parts supply chain.

Xpeng, which raised $400 million last November, sold 3,564 vehicles in the first four months of this year.

($1 = 7.1048 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Richard Pullin

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