Peng trouble: frequent breakdowns and staff accused of stealing Tesla Apple technology

While spring is upon us, the U.S. Tesla electric car is experiencing a harsh winter in mainland China. Anyone who understands China’s political ecology sees the bleak future for Tesla in the mainland market. At the same time, the well-known mainland electric car manufacturer Xiaopeng (XPeng Motors), which is eyeing Tesla, is in a bad way, and is constantly being exposed to the embarrassing situation of stealing the technology of the American technology company’s copycat of its own electric car and being complained about and defending the rights of consumers.

XPeng owners’ rights defense incident

On May 8, the well-known V [Internet of that thing] on microblogging photos show that a small Peng owners will be their P7 car failure to the Xiaopeng Shijiazhuang 4S store in front of the banner to defend their rights. The banner reads, “Brake failure nearly killed, a car problem no one care”.

Earlier, Henan Tesla owner’s family went to Zhengzhou, Shanghai and other places to complain about Tesla’s “brake failure” problem. Now, the so-called China’s three major electric car companies, one of the small Peng car, also burst out of the owners of the rights of events, sparking public concern.

The netizen “wind is blowing, people are walking” said, as long as the collision is brake problems, Tesla incident by a mouth to make a mess.

Netizen Ert said: Is this news true? The news came out just after the Tesla incident, and had to make people think about it.

In fact, the Xiaopeng electric car has encountered many complaints over the past few years, with a much higher frequency than Tesla, and several Xiaopeng G3 owners have reported quality problems with their vehicles such as brake failure and brake rattles.

In June 2019, a G3 owner reported a serious brake system failure on the second day of picking up the car, and the dashboard showed that the vehicle’s performance was impaired, so please drive with caution. The car behaved as if the safety assist function was not working and the car’s speed was uncontrollable as it went up and down.

Xiaopeng claimed to the owner that the cooling pipes were not functioning properly due to a serious work error during the car’s factory assembly. This situation is a product quality issue, but Xiaopeng will not replace it.

In April 2020, news that Wuhan owners reacted to the purchase of Xiaopeng G32020 Model 520 Smart Edition two months after last November, the brakes failed, while the anti-collision system failed, resulting in the car colliding with the glass curtain wall directly in front of it, the right side of the car was damaged and two airbags burst out. However, Xiaopeng Auto said there was no quality problem, and did not explain the reason for the failure of the anti-collision system.

In October 2020, a netizen reported that he was driving a Xiaopeng G3 with a brake failure problem, with a loud noise when the brakes were applied, showing a vacuum pump failure. The owner was forced to force a stop and wait for a tow truck to handle it.

In April this year, the Peng owner Mr. Gu reflected, he bought Peng G3 within a few days, the vehicle chassis at a lot of noise, after inspection found that the car front wheel bearing damage. In this regard, the peng car after-sales staff said, this is only bearing failure, other nothing wrong. Can only give a certain points compensation, and can only be used for Xiaopeng.

The company’s main goal is to provide a solution to the problem.

The above accident is just a part of the. April 14, 2021, Guangzhou Tianhe District, near the Metropolis Square, a charging Peng G3 car suddenly caught fire. The fire was fierce and emitted a lot of white smoke. On the same day, Xiaopeng’s U.S. stock plunged 7.3%.

Xiaopeng Auto had spontaneous combustion while charging and spontaneous combustion at the rear of the car in August 2020 and December 2019, respectively.

In late January this year, the frequent spontaneous combustion model Xiaopeng G3 recalled 13,399 products, allegedly due to a defect in its inverter, which could cause the model to fail to start or lose power. The recall was the largest of its kind for a new energy vehicle.

On April 15, an automotive blogger Wang Tonggen was quoted by the mainland media as saying that “Xiaopeng’s ability to recognize surrounding vehicles can only be described as miserable” and that he “hopes that self-driving car fans will do a little more homework before handing over control of the gas pedal and brakes and understand what kind of unreliable feature they are entrusting their lives to. He “hopes that self-driving fans will do a little more homework before handing over the throttle and brakes, and understand what kind of an unreliable feature they are trusting their lives to.

Founded in Guangzhou in 2014, Xiaopeng Automotive received investments from Alibaba, Hon Hai Technology (Foxconn) and other companies in 2017.

Previously, Xiaopeng’s founder, He Xiaopeng, had publicly cited Tesla as a competitor. Just in March, He Xiaopeng had choked Tesla founder Musk in microblogging, saying, “Starting next year, autonomous driving in China you have to be ideologically prepared to be beaten by us to find the east, as for the international, we will meet.”

Because of the product quality and after-sales service reputation double poor, He Xiaopeng product performance is very uncontroversial, according to the statistics of the Federation of passenger associations, Xiaopeng P7 model 2020 annual cumulative sales of only 15,315 units, less than Tesla’s December 2020 Model3 single-month sales of 23,804 units.

Theft of trade secrets Xiaopeng is widely criticized

In addition, Xiaopeng has been involved in several intellectual property lawsuits for stealing technology and unfair competition.

Tesla sued its former Chinese-born engineer Cao Guangzhi in U.S. District Court in Northern California on March 20, 2019 for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to Tesla’s Autopilot, including the original programming code, and then secretly defecting to Xiaopeng with the technology in early January of the same year. This is the second recent charge of trade secret theft faced by Xiaopeng’s employees.

A court filing dated July 8 of the same year shows that Cao Guangzhi admitted to uploading zip files containing Autopilot raw code to his personal iCloud account in late 2018, while he was still working at Tesla. But he denied stealing sensitive Tesla information.

Tesla claims in the lawsuit that Cao Guangzhi eventually moved more than 300,000 Autopilot-related files and directories.

According to reports, Cao deleted 120,000 files from his Tesla work computer and disconnected his iCloud account after accepting an offer from Xiaopeng in late 2018, then “repeatedly logged into Tesla’s secure network” in order to clear his browsing records. On January 3, 2019, Cao resigned from Tesla to become head of self-driving perception at Xiaopeng Automotive.

Tesla believes that Cao Guangzhi stole Tesla’s core code when he left to join Xiaopeng Automotive.

Tesla’s allegations were denied by Xiaopeng. Chairman He Xiaopeng also argued that the flow of top talent from China to the United States is normal behavior between companies.

In mid-April 2021, news emerged that Cao Guangzhi had reached a settlement agreement with Tesla that required Cao to apologize to Tesla for his actions and admit to uploading the Tesla Autopilot source code to his personal, cloud-based storage account while employed by Tesla.

No other details of the terms of the settlement agreement are available to the public, but Cao Guangzhi is required to pay damages to Tesla.

Eight months before Cao’s case, the FBI had already filed criminal charges against two other Xiaopeng engineers for stealing Apple’s trade secrets.

On July 7, 2018, the FBI arrested Zhang Xiaolang, a former Apple employee who was preparing to return to China, at the San Jose, California, airport for a criminal investigation, according to the mainland media Securities Daily on March 26, 2019. Similar to the Tesla case against Cao Guangzhi, Zhang conducted extensive searches and targeted downloads of application information from a confidential database prior to his departure.

Xiaolang Zhang had worked at Apple since December 2015, primarily on Apple’s secretive self-driving project Project Titan, designing and testing circuit boards to analyze sensor data. Zhang gained extensive access to Apple’s “encrypted security repository” and had access to much of the encrypted information and patents related to Apple’s driverless technology.

Intellectual Property Discloses Documents Stolen by Zhang

In April 2018, Xiaolang Zhang returned to mainland China during a home leave following the birth of his child. Upon his return to the U.S., he offered his resignation to Apple, saying he wanted to travel to China to work for Xiaopeng Automotive. After his supervisor asked him to “recuse” himself briefly before leaving, Apple’s new product security team investigated Zhang’s historical online activity and analyzed his Apple devices.

The company found that Zhang’s online activity prior to his departure had “increased exponentially” compared to his first two years at Apple. Much of this activity included bulk searches and targeted downloads of large amounts of information, including trade secret intellectual property, from various confidential database applications.

Apple surveillance footage shows Zhang visiting campus on the evening of April 28, entering the Apple self-driving car software and hardware lab, and later leaving with a box of hardware. This coincided with the time the information was downloaded.

In a second conversation with Apple’s security team, Zhang admitted to obtaining online data and hardware (Linux servers and circuit boards) from Apple during his paternity leave.

He also admitted to AirDropping approximately 40GB of sensitive content from his own device to his wife’s laptop computer. The company’s digital investigation team found that at least 60 percent of the data was downloaded and transferred to his wife’s computer after all Apple evidence was forwarded to the FBI.

The FBI described the information in court documents as “primarily technical in nature, including engineering schematics, technical reference manuals and technical reports.

When he was hired by Apple, Zhang signed an intellectual property agreement and attended a mandatory in-person confidentiality training course that he later violated, and he was interviewed by the FBI in late June and admitted to stealing the information.

After the news was disclosed, Xiaopeng Auto rushed to shake it off, claiming that for Zhang Xiaolang’s actions “Xiaopeng Auto was not aware of the matter and was not involved in any way.”

In January 2019, Chen Jizhong, an Apple self-driving hardware engineer of Chinese descent, was arrested by the FBI while trying to leave the U.S. The FBI accused him of stealing trade secrets about the company’s self-driving car program.

Chen Jizhong, a Chinese national, was hired as a hardware developer in the summer of 2018 and became one of 5,000 employees on Apple’s Titan program.

Titan is a self-driving car development effort run in secret by Apple. A criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California, revealed that on Jan. 11, 2019, about six months after Jizhong Chen signed Apple’s strict confidentiality agreement, he was witnessed by several co-workers taking a wide-angle photo of Apple’s self-driving program in a confidential workspace.

Prosecutors said Chen admitted to taking the photo and backing up about 2,000 files to his personal hard drive, including the project’s manuals and prototype drawings, but Chen did not tell Apple he had applied for the job with the Chinese self-driving car company.

Apple said it would be “devastating” if the information Chen stole was leaked. The photo seized by the government is time-stamped Dec. 19 and features Apple’s self-driving architecture. Another photo, dated June 2018, a few weeks after Chen was hired, involved a wiring harness assembly diagram for self-driving vehicles.

The media revealed that Chen Jizhong had gone to Xiaopeng Automotive for an interview.

Chen was arrested the day before he flew to China. The indictment shows he told Apple he planned to visit his sick father. If convicted of trade secret theft, Chen faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Tesla says its proprietary self-driving technology is the culmination of at least five years of work by hundreds of people and cost tens of millions of dollars, and that Xiaopeng has no right to own it.

Xiaopeng poaches Tesla Apple talent

Xiaopeng car to theft of intellectual property rights, digging people corner bending to develop their own, but due to the limited independent high-end R & D capabilities, market performance is difficult to beat Tesla. The continuous outbreak of vicious accidents and owners’ rights in recent years has also revealed the strategic thinking of the Chinese Communist Party in copying the technology of developed countries, i.e. technology by stealing, products by blowing, losses by government financial subsidies, profits by packaging and listing for money.

Xiaopeng Auto has been losing money in the past few years, with a cumulative loss of $845 million in the past two and a half years. However, on July 7, 2020, Xiaopeng Auto applied for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange and operated Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and Bank of America as underwriters for the IPO.

On the evening of August 27th, Xiaopeng Automotive was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its listing was allegedly supported all the way by a group of domestic bigwigs such as Jack Ma, Zhang Lei, Lei Jun, Shen Nanpeng and Xiong Xiaogong. Previously Xiaopeng Auto raised 10 times, more than 12 billion yuan.

Although on the market, according to the “Foreign Companies Accountability Act” (Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act) passed by the U.S. Senate in May 2020 to strengthen the review of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, does not rule out making Xiaopeng such Chinese companies off the market.

On April 14, 2021, Xiaopeng launched its third P5, the world’s first mass-produced LiDAR smart car, to compete with Tesla again. He boasted in an interview that Xiaopeng “is likely to be the world’s largest LIDAR car manufacturer next year”. But because of its spotty track record, outsiders are not optimistic that Xiaopeng products can improve trust.