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Tesla Joins Apple in Trade Secret Cases Tied to China's Xpeng

  • Engineers allegedly betrayed U.S. companies for same startup
  • Xpeng Motors says it plays by the rules, unaware of misconduct
A pedestrian walks past a closed Tesla store in Palm Desert, California.

A pedestrian walks past a closed Tesla store in Palm Desert, California.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
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Tesla Inc. accused one of its former engineers of stealing highly confidential autopilot information before bolting to Chinese rival Xpeng Motors, eight months after one of Apple Inc.’s ex-employees was charged with taking sensitive robocar secrets to a new job with that same company.

Allegations that a second Silicon Valley giant was betrayed by one of its own workers bound for the same Chinese startup come amid a major U.S. crackdown on Chinese corporate espionage. The rivalry in the electric-car market, with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, has intensified with the two nations locked in a trade war.