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XPeng to Produce Its Own Chips; Analyst Weighs In

The latest noises coming out from China suggest XPeng (XPEV) is keen to produce its own chips in-house.

According to Chinese news outlet 36kr, using a small team of less than 10 engineers, the Chinese EV maker is developing its own autonomous driving chip.

The production started a few months ago and is taking place in both the US and China. Xia Heng, XPeng’s Co-President and Chief Technology & Operation Advisor Benny Katibian, whose prior jobs include leading the tech dept at Qualcomm's ADAS team, are at the helm of the new project.

“Industry sources indicate XPeng is actively recruiting chip engineers,” said Deutsche Bank’s Edison Yu, who believes this suggests “there are plans to grow this effort moving forward.”

“In our view,” Yu further noted, “We do not expect any near-term changes as both XPILOT 3.5 and 4.0 will use Nvidia chips (Xavier and Orin), but believe similar to Tesla/NIO, XPeng wants to ultimately use a custom designed chip purpose built to train its neural net (to use in XPILOT 5.0) rather than a general purpose chip, in order to maximize performance/ efficiency and lower cost.”

Yu thinks local rival Nio, is “likely” fast at work on a similar project after poaching Xiaomi's chip division manager.

Looking at the wider picture, Yu believes it is all part of an effort by the industry/government to lower the dependence on foreign chips. Earlier this year, backed by BYD and Great Wall Motor, Horizon Robotics raised $900 million in a Series C round. The 5-year-old, local start-up was recently selected by SAIC (GM and VW’s main JV Chinese partner) to supply its ADAS/AD chipset. Horizon is targeting the shipment of 1 million chips this year and Yu believes it is a good example of the local industry’s chip manufacturing ambitions.

To this end, Yu rates XPEV shares a Buy along with a $48 price target. The implication for investors? Upside of 39%. (To watch Yu’s track record, click here)

XPEV stock has a resounding “yes” on Wall Street. 6 Buys and 1 Hold assigned in the last three months add up to a Strong Buy analyst consensus. At $49.50, the average price target implies upside potential of 43.5%. (See XPEV stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.