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Tesla lawsuit unmasks fierce headhunting by China's Xpeng

Ex-employee allegedly moves to Guangzhou startup with 300,000 files

A Model 3 Tesla vehicle navigates morning rush hour using the car's auto pilot feature in Los Angeles, California on March 20.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Tesla has sued one of its former engineers for allegedly stealing proprietary self-driving technology before decamping to Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Motors -- the second time an employee at the Guangzhou-based company faces trade secret theft charges in the U.S.

Tesla brought the suit on Wednesday against Cao Guangzhi, an ex-member of Tesla's self-driving team. The complaint, filed in a district court in Northern California, came eight months after the U.S. government indicted another Xpeng engineer for stealing trade secrets from Apple.

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