XPeng (XPEV) shares fall after autonomous driving leader resigns

Chinese EV maker Xpeng Motors announced Wednesday that Dr. Xinzhou Wu, who has been leading the company’s autonomous driving business, is leaving. XPeng (XPEV) shares are falling after rallying the past month on the news.

XPeng loses head of autonomous driving

XPeng announced in a press release that Dr. Xinzhou Wu, vice president of autonomous driving, is resigning due to personal and family reasons.

He took over as head of autonomous driving at XPeng in December 2018 (after spending over a decade at Qualcomm) with the goal of establishing the technology as a key differentiator feature for the automaker’s EVs in China.

Wu has led XPeng to be among China’s most notable EV startups, including NIO, Li Auto, and others.

The leader helped advance breakthrough driverless tech solutions like highway NGP and VPA in XPeng vehicles, including the P7, P5, and G9.

More recently, Wu led the team (+1,000 members) in transitioning from basic advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to city streets with the release of City NGP in an impressive 3.5 years. XPeng’s City NGP is similar to Tesla’s FSD.

In June, XPeng’s City NGP became the first automaker to offer the technology in China’s capital city of Beijing. Check out a video of how it works below.

XPeng City NGP (Source: XPeng Motors/YouTube)

Dr. Liyun Li, senior director of XPeng’s autonomous driving team, will take over Dr Wu’s responsibilities. Dr. Li has been leading the XNGP project team and preparing for the transition for over a year.

Mr. He Xiaopeng, Chairman and CEO of XPeng, commented on the departure, saying, “We will remain fully committed to our clear roadmap for the full-stack in-house developed autonomous driving technology,” adding, “I will continue to personally lead our autonomous driving team.”

The company’s leader said on his Weibo account that Dr. Wu told him he would be returning to the US in the second half of last year.

Xiaopeng also highlighted the EV maker’s commitment to Volkswagen, which signed a deal last week to use XPeng’s Edward platform (used for the G9) to build two new EVs.

XPeng (XPEV) one-year stock chart (Source: TradingView)

XPeng’s stock is down over 5% in Wednesday’s trading session following the news of Dr. Wu’s departure.

According to the company’s leader, XPeng will continue to make more AI-oriented organizational changes.

In July, XPeng delivered 11,008 smart EVs, up 28% from June, marking the automaker’s sixth consecutive month of growth.

Image source: XPeng Motors

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