Xpeng’s Gu says robotaxis won’t be a real business for at least five years


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A Xpeng G9 is displayed at a store in a mall in Beijing on Feb. 29, 2024.
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — Self-driving taxis won’t be a significant business for at least five years, Xpeng Vice Chairman and Co-President Brian Gu said Thursday.

That prediction comes as Elon Musk has promoted his vision of Tesla as a company that is developing artificial intelligence software for the commercialization of a robotaxi network.

While robotaxis will be transformative for mobility if they become prevalent, “to have a real, full-fledged commercial operation. I think it’s more than 5 years away,” Gu told reporters on the sidelines of the Beijing auto show.

“Right now it’s not something that we are considering when we are launching and planning the sales,” he said.

Xpeng, a China-based electric car startup that is also selling in Europe, has made driver-assist software one of its selling points.

“I think there will be a lot of testing,” Gu said, noting that in China there is interest in showing off technology and marking milestones.

Chinese tech companies such as Baidu and Pony.ai have received permission from local authorities in parts of China to charge fares for fully driverless taxis. The operating areas include a suburb of Beijing and parts of Wuhan.

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