The F57's smart driving system will remove LiDAR in favor of a pure vision solution and use 3D millimeter-wave radars, according to local media.

(A spy shot of what is allegedly 's model codenamed F57 shared by the auto blogger @小志说车.)

When Xpeng (NYSE: XPEV) launched the P5 sedan in September 2021, one of its key selling points was that it was the world's first production model to feature LiDAR. Now, the company is reportedly ditching the component on a new premium model.

Xpeng will launch a sedan, codenamed F57, in the second half of this year, and it will be a notch above the company's current flagship sedan, the P7 series, local media outlet HiEV reported today.

The F57's smart driving system will remove LiDAR in favor of a pure vision solution and use 3D millimeter-wave radars, the report said, citing several people familiar with the matter.

With Xpeng's initial three models -- the G3, P7, and P5 -- slipping in competitiveness, and the three new models -- the G6, G9, and X9 -- on a sales ramp-up, the company needs to move faster in the sedan market, the report noted.

Xpeng launched the P5 sedan in China on September 15, 2021, with LiDARs in some of the higher trim levels. After that, the P7 facelift, the P7i, as well as newer models including the G6, G9, and X9, feature two LiDARs.

Recent images circulating on social media of what is suspected to be the F57 show that the model still packs two LiDARs, but the Xpeng team internally is leaning toward removing the component when the model goes into production, according to HiEV.

The F57 was a vehicle defined when Xpeng's previous autonomous driving head Wu Xinzhou, a proponent of the pure vision route, was still on board, and the model would have had the LiDARs removed, the report said, citing a supply chain source close to Xpeng.

The reason the test car came with LiDAR was likely for the Truth Maintenance System -- a data collection system in artificial intelligence, the person said.

Wu joined Xpeng in March 2019 and was a key contributor in helping the EV maker get a solid smart driving label. He left Xpeng in August 2023 and joined US chip giant Nvidia.

With LiDAR removed, the F57 will carry 3D millimeter-wave radars, according to HiEV.

Currently, a 3D millimeter-wave radar costs roughly RMB 200 ($28), which is roughly half as cheap as a 4D millimeter-wave radar, the report noted.

3D millimeter-wave radar can only present planar information, while 4D millimeter-wave radar will add height information. Industry sources believe that 4D millimeter-wave radar is comparable to LiDAR products with 30 - 40 laser channels, the report said.

In Xpeng's efforts to increase urban coverage of its XNGP (Xpeng navigation guided pilot) capability, LiDARs are only being used as an aid when dealing with static targets, the report said.

Xpeng's team internally proposed removing LiDARs a long time ago and has been training OCC models for a long time, according to a smart driving technology developer at the company, according to HiEV.

Notably, other Xpeng models after the F57 will continue to use LiDARs because the valet parking feature must use the component, the report said.

After the F57, Xpeng's smart driving business will enter an era dominated by He Xiaopeng and Li Liyun, the report said. Mr. He is Xpeng's chairman and CEO, and Li is Wu's successor.

($1 = RMB 7.1900)

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