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23 January 2019

Chinese automakers are now copying the Tesla Model X's interior

By James LisleJames Lisle

It was only a matter of time, wasn't it?

Chinese car companies aren't new to replicating existing car designs. There's the Shuanhuan SCEO, which copied the BMW X5; the Lifan 320, which took influence from the Mini Cooper; and the LandWind X7, a car that was so close to the Range Rover Evoque JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) eventually took them to court in Beijing. And lost (twice).

This is the latest one: an electric SUV called the Xpeng G3. Priced at 227,800 yuan (AUD $47,033) it offers 145kW/300Nm and likely offers around 230km range (EPA rating). Fun.

  • There's a slight hint of Tesla in the G3's headlights. But there's no escaping that roof. There's a slight hint of Tesla in the G3's headlights. But there's no escaping that roof.
  • If the Peugeot 3008 and last-gen Saab 9-5 had an SUV baby. If the Peugeot 3008 and last-gen Saab 9-5 had an SUV baby.

And yes, while the exterior isn't a complete rip-off, the front-end - with its LED headlight strips, grooved clamshell bonnet, A-pillar arch, and darkened panoramic roof - has strong roots to the Model X.

But what about the inside? Well that's a whole different league...

The interior is uncanny to the Tesla Model X: there's a similar minimalistic design to the front seats, with their headrests intergrated into the shoulder supports; a similar centre console (albeit a little bit higher); the same Mercedes-Benz control stalks on the steering wheel; a digital instrument binnacle with pseudo-Tesla graphics and front; and of course, the iconic Tesla centre-screen.

  • There's no denying it: this is a blatant rip-off. There's no denying it: this is a blatant rip-off.
  • They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But 'they' also say many things. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But 'they' also say many things.
  • A Chinese car copying American interior decoration which was, in turn, inspired by pale Nordic minimalism. Wait, what? A Chinese car copying American interior decoration which was, in turn, inspired by pale Nordic minimalism. Wait, what?
  • Vehicle model in the centre, data on the bottom, energy consumption on the right, and Merc drive-selector by the wheel. Vehicle model in the centre, data on the bottom, energy consumption on the right, and Merc drive-selector by the wheel.
  • They had the perfect chance to fix a Tesla wrong: fit a retractable sunshade. But they didn't... They had the perfect chance to fix a Tesla wrong: fit a retractable sunshade. But they didn't...

Not ony does the screen's orientation, position, size, and rake look familar. But it appears to even copy the Model X's user interface's layout, menu shortcuts, graphics, and font.

While Tesla has kept its tech patents open-sourced (like its hi-po charging methods and 18650 battery-cell format) in a bid to boost EV startups get off their feet, its model designs are not.

So not only has Xpeng taken advantage of Tesla's technology (fair enough - it's legal), they've also manufactured its aesthetic personality. Hmm...

What do you think about the Xpeng G3? Are we being too picky? Tell us what you think in the comments below.