Tesla again accuses Chinese rival Xpeng of corporate espionage

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk accuses Chinese EV maker Xpeng of stealing source codes. It’s not the first time Musk has accused Xpeng of corporate espionage. According to Musk, Apple’s intellectual property has also been looted by Xpeng.


On Twitter, Musk was asked why he accused Xpeng of corporate espionage when it actually demonstrates innovation with the inclusion of LiDAR technology in their vehicles. According to Musk, Tesla’s looted intellectual property underlies Xpeng’s sudden expertise in LiDAR.

LiDAR is a technology that determines the distance to an object or surface through the use of laser pulses. With LiDAR, self-driving cars could navigate flawlessly.

Musk said on Twitter that Xpeng has stolen outdated autopilot software and that Tesla’s advanced neural network tech has not been leaked.

Tesla does not believe in LiDAR sensor technology and relies on neural networks for the AI. According to Musk, LiDAR is a past station.

Apple does use LiDAR technology in the iPhone 12 for greatly improved “augmented reality”.

Intellectual property

Tesla is clearly struggling to protect intellectual property.

In July 2019, Guangzhi Cao, a former engineer at Tesla, admitted to uploading Tesla’s autopilot source code to his iCloud account. Tesla then sued Cao for allegedly selling the code to Xpeng.

In 2018, a former Apple engineer was charged with stealing technology related to an Apple self-driving car project.

This ex-Apple employee later went on to work for the China-based EV manufacturer XMotors. Whether Xpeng really stole the source code from Tesla’s autopilot is still open to question, however.

Xpeng said last week that all cars produced by 2021 will be equipped with LiDAR sensors.