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Chinese EV makers Li Auto, Nio, Xpeng and BYD report March sales rise

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Li Auto, Nio and Xpeng, China’s top three premium electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturers, have reported a strong rebound in deliveries in March, after their promotional activities attracted thousands of buyers. BYD, the world’s largest EV maker, said the sales of its pure electric and plug-in hybrids too had surged last month.
Beijing-based Li Auto said on Monday that it handed 28,984 units to mainland Chinese customers in March, up 43.1 per cent from a month earlier. But the company’s first-quarter deliveries hit 80,400 units, about 20 per cent shy of its early target of 100,000 to 103,000 vehicles.
Shanghai carmaker Nio delivered 11,866 vehicles in March, up 45.9 per cent from the previous month. Its total sales of 30,053 vehicles for the three months ending with March, however, fell short of early estimates of between 31,000 and 33,000 units.
Guangzhou-headquartered Xpeng’s March delivery volume nearly double from the previous month to 9,026 units. Its first-quarter sales reached 21,821 vehicles, meeting an early forecast of 21,000 to 22,500 units, but its quarterly deliveries were the lowest among the three premium EV makers.

Meanwhile, BYD, which sells EVs in the 100,000 to 200,000 yuan price bracket, said it sold 302,459 units in March, a surge of 147.3 per cent from February. The monthly deliveries were the highest since the Shenzhen-based carmaker set an all-time high of 341,043 deliveries in December.

But these monthly sales figures might not be enough to dispel the gloom that shrouds the world’s largest automotive and EV market amid intensifying competition.

What price war? Tesla raises price of its Model Y electric car in China

“A recovery in March allowed the EV makers to breathe a sigh of relief, following woeful sales in February,” said Eric Han, a senior manager at Suolei, an advisory firm in Shanghai. “But difficulties are looming, as new rivals such as Xiaomi are luring consumers away from established brands.”

Xiaomi, traditionally a smartphone vendor, said last week that it had received more than 80,000 orders for its first production model, the fully-electric SU7 sedan, within 24 hours of presales starting.

An eight-day sales break during the Lunar New Year holiday knocked the mainland EV market off its feet, with nearly all key players reporting a slump in sales in February.

Xiaomi makes waves in crowded EV market with its keenly priced SU7 model

Moreover, on February 18, BYD fired the first salvo in a price war that could yet reshape the mainland’s automotive sector. The company launched a new version of its plug-in hybrid, the Qin Plus DM-i, with prices starting at 79,800 yuan (US$11,037), 20 per cent below the previous edition.

It has since slashed the prices of nearly all of its cars by 5 to 20 per cent.

Xpeng offered an about 10 per cent discount on its bestselling sport-utility vehicle, the G6, to bolster sales. Li Auto marked down prices of its vehicles by 10,000 yuan to sustain its market share while Nio distributed free coupons to owners that use its battery swapping technology.

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On Monday, Nio, which traditionally does not lower the prices of its EVs, said that drivers who replaced their petrol vehicles with its EVs would receive a “subsidy” of 10,000 yuan each.

Li Auto, Nio and Xpeng are viewed as China’s best response to Tesla on the mainland. Tesla does not publish monthly delivery numbers for China, but the US carmaker sold 30,141 Model 3s and Model Ys to Chinese customers in February, down 24.4 per cent year on year, according to China Passenger Car Association data.

In the first two months of this year, Tesla sold 70,022 units in China, up 15.2 per cent from the same period in 2023.

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