Tesla Settles Tech-Theft Lawsuit With Worker Who Joined XPeng

A former Tesla Inc. employee will pay a confidential sum to settle a lawsuit over alleged theft of trade secrets before he moved to Chinese rival Xpeng Inc.

Tesla had alleged that Cao Guangzhi uploaded copies of Autopilot-related source code to his iCloud account and retained them after he resigned in January 2019 and joined XPeng’s U.S. unit XMotors. Cao said he didn’t mean to retain the source code and had tried to delete it, and that he also didn’t disclose it or use it for the benefit of his new employer or any other third party, a filing to the Northern District Court in California showed.

Cao admitted he shouldn’t have uploaded the code or synced it to his personal devices and apologized to Tesla for his actions, according to the document.

Tesla had previously requested XPeng disclose its autonomous-driving source code and turn over images of computer hard drives as it tried to amass proof in the lawsuit, which XPeng said crossed a line and was intended “to bully and disrupt a young competitor.” XPeng wasn’t a defendant in the suit. In a statement Friday, the company said Tesla “failed to find any substantive evidence” to support its allegations.

Tesla wasn’t immediately available for comment.

XPeng’s share price has more than doubled since the company listed in the U.S. in August. The Guangzhou-based carmaker, founded in 2014, delivered 27,041 G3 sports utility vehicles and P7 electric sedans in 2020, more than twice as many as in 2019. This year has started strongly, with over 13,000 units delivered in the first quarter. XPeng plans to set up a third production plant with annual capacity of 100,000 units and on Wednesday it unveiled a new sedan ahead of the Shanghai auto show.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.