More than four years into the case, is not aware of the specifics of the case and has not been involved in the subsequent investigation of the case by US judicial authorities, the company said.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Earlier today, reports of a former Apple employee pleading guilty to charges of stealing trade secrets prior to joining Xpeng Motors sparked widespread discussion. Now, the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker has responded.

"We learned today from the media of the latest developments in the case of former Apple employee Zhang Xiaolang's alleged theft of Apple trade secrets," Xpeng said in a statement posted on Weibo.

It has been more than four years into the case, and Xpeng is not aware of the specifics of the case and has not been involved in the follow-up investigation of the case by the US judiciary, the statement said.

Xpeng also has no relevant dispute with Apple and has no connection with the case, the company said.

Xpeng strictly abides by relevant laws and attaches great importance to intellectual property protection, it said, adding that the company is a leader in China's automated assisted driving field and will continue to adhere to the route of full-stack in-house development.

Earlier today, Sina Tech reported that Zhang, a former employee of Apple who was accused of stealing trade secrets from the iPhone maker's automotive division before joining Xpeng, has pleaded guilty in US federal court in San Jose.

After pleading guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing in this case is scheduled for November, according to the report.

Zhang is accused of downloading internal documents about Apple's car project, which totaled 25 pages and contained engineering schematics for a car circuit board.

In its response today, Xpeng attached a statement issued by the company on July 11, 2018, which said Zhang signed intellectual property compliance documents when he joined Xpeng in early May 2018 after leaving Apple, and that there is no record of him reporting any sensitive information to Xpeng or of any violations.

Xpeng learned on June 27, 2018, that US authorities were investigating Zhang and the company sealed his computer and office supplies as required, the 2018 statement said.

Prior to the issue, Xpeng was not aware of the matter and cooperated and conducted an internal investigation at the first opportunity after the US authorities opened an investigation, according to the statement.

Ex-Apple employee pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets before joining XPeng