Chinese electric car start-up Li Auto expects to sell less than Nio


A Li Xiang One Hybrid SUV is on display during the 18th Guangzhou International Auto Show in Guangzhou, China on Nov 23, 2020.

Li Zhihao | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese automaker Li Auto, listed on the Nasdaq, is forecasting deliveries in the first quarter that will be below those of its competitors.

Li Auto announced late Thursday that it is expected to deliver between 10,500 and 11,500 cars, or fewer than 4,000 vehicles per month, for the first quarter of the year. Shares fell 9.8% in the New York trading session on a wider market sell-off. The stock lost another 3.75% in over-the-counter trading.

Nio, which competes directly with Li Auto in the high-end SUV market, shipped more than 7,000 units in both December and January. The company will release its latest financial report on Monday.

Xpeng shipped 5,700 cars in December and more than 6,000 in January.

Although the numbers of startups suggest rapid growth, they still pale in comparison to Tesla. Elon Musk’s electric car company shipped nearly half a million vehicles worldwide last year, which is an average of more than 41,000 cars per month.

Despite the New Year holiday in mid-February this year, Li Auto’s poor forecast is worrying, said Tu Le, founder of Beijing-based consulting firm Sino Auto Insights.

He pointed out that the company only has one product compared to the other startups and that it should deliver at least 5,000 to 7,000 vehicles a month to keep up.

Li Auto’s only vehicle, the Li One, is a hybrid electric vehicle equipped with a fuel tank to charge the battery.

Analysts have said the feature makes the Li One attractive to Chinese consumers who are concerned about running out of power without access to a charging station.

Last year, the Li One was one of the top 10 high-end SUVs sold in China, regardless of the fuel type, according to the passenger car association. However, the company announced that January shipments fell from 6,126 the previous month to 5,379 units.

The company reported total revenue of 4.15 billion yuan ($ 635.5 million) for the fourth quarter, compared with 2.51 billion yuan in the previous quarter.

Li Auto expects total sales for the first three months of this year to be in line with the last two quarters, with an expected range of 2.94 to 3.22 billion yuan.