XPeng Motors has completed an RMB 250 million ($39 million) acquisition of a high-precision map provider, paving the way for it to support Navigation Guided Pilot (NGP) on urban roads, WeChat account Auto-Bit reported Thursday.
The vendor, Jiangsu Zhitu Technology, had a 2019 revenue of just RMB 7.38 million, but its assets totaled RMB 290 million.
XPeng acquired Zhitu mainly because of the value of its high-precision mapping credentials, Auto-Bit said, citing an industry source.
High-precision maps provide vehicles with elemental information including road network topology, lane lines, curve curvature, and ramp gradient to assist vehicles in self-positioning and completing automatic cornering, automatic lane changes and on/off ramp operations.
XPeng is known for its smart parking and NGP features, and getting qualified to draw high-precision maps will pave the way for it to launch urban NGP features, according to Auto-Bit.
XPeng has already launched XPILOT 3.0 with automatic navigation-assisted driving on highways, and it will next launch XPILOT 3.5 with autonomous driving on city roads on its third model, the P5.
Currently, the NGP function in XPeng P7's XPILOT 3.0 is developed based on Gaode Map's high-precision map, while NIO uses Baidu's high-precision map on its similar NOP function.
China has a strict entry mechanism for some industries, and only qualified companies are allowed to conduct business.
Last year XPeng acquired the vehicle production qualification through the acquisition of the troubled Guangdong Foday Co Ltd. Qualifications for high-precision mapping are also a scarce resource.
To date, 28 entities in China have obtained Class A mapping qualifications. Chinese surveying and mapping regulations require that Class A surveying and mapping qualifications be held for the collection and production of electronic maps for navigation.
Zhitu was founded in 2006 and its main business is ground mobile surveying, preparation of 3D maps and electronic maps. In May 2019 it obtained a Class A surveying and mapping qualification for navigational electronic map production.
Notably, in its prospectus filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in June, XPeng mentioned that it signed a restructuring agreement with Zhitu on May 20 to acquire 100 percent of its equity for RMB 250 million through the latter's bankruptcy proceedings.
On June 23, Zhitu completed a change in its business information, with the company becoming 100 percent owned by Guangzhou Xintu Technology Co, the latter is controlled by Henry Xia and He Tao, co-founders of XPeng.