China: Deliveries drop in January for electric car start-up Li Auto



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A Li Xiang One hybrid SUV is on display at the 18th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition at the China Import and Export Fair Complex on November 23, 2020 in China.

Li Zhihao | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – Heading into 2021, a drop in deliveries in January puts Chinese automaker Li Auto in third place behind start-up competitors Nio and Xpeng.

Li Auto, listed on the Nasdaq, said Monday evening Eastern Time that it delivered 5,379 Li One SUVs in January. That’s down from 6,126 in December and below 7,225 from Nio and 6,015 deliveries from Xpeng for January.

Li Auto also announced the establishment of a new research and development center in Shanghai for autonomous driving and other technologies related to electric vehicles.

Li Auto shares fell the most among its peers in US trading on Tuesday, down 5.7% from losses of around 4.6% for Xpeng and 2.1% for Nio. Tesla shares rose 3.9%.

Competition for high-end electric SUVs intensified in January, with Tesla announcing that it would soon begin deliveries of its Chinese-made Model Y at a price close to that of cars from Nio and Li Auto. Tesla delivered 180,570 electric cars worldwide in the last three months of 2020 alone.

The Li One SUV is Li Auto’s first and only model to date. It was the best-selling premium electric SUV in 2020 and even made it into the top 10 premium SUVs overall, along with Nio, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Morgan Stanley analysts said the Li One SUV stands out with its fuel tank that can charge the battery and extend the range from 620 kilometers (385 miles) to a total of 800 kilometers.

One of the biggest concerns of Chinese consumers when buying an electric car is whether the battery will run out too quickly, with no charging station nearby, or with long charging times.

Deliveries of 5,379 Li One SUVs in January have consistently increased fourfold from the same period a year ago, and cumulative deliveries have exceeded 38,900 since the vehicle’s launch in December 2019, according to Li Auto.

That’s less than half of the more than 82,800 vehicles that Nio said it had delivered cumulatively at the end of January. Nio has three SUV models on the market and plans to start deliveries of a sedan next year.

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