Electric car maker Nio delivered just north of 700 cars in February, half the number it had produced a month earlier, it said on Tuesday as automakers report plunging sales due to the Covid-19 virus crisis.

Why it matters: Nio is one of many Chinese EV makers that have been heavily affected by both weak demand amid a national health crisis and increased competition from Tesla’s China-made Model 3.

  • Tesla bucked the industry-wide slump in February, delivering 3,958 Model 3 cars during the month, or around a third of the country’s total volume, Bloomberg reported citing Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

Details: Nio’s car deliveries dropped 55.7% sequentially to 707 units in February, according to an announcement released Tuesday. More than 90% of cars delivered were its five-seater SUV ES6, with the bigger premium SUV ES8 making up the balance.

  • Still, Nio’s February decline was a moderate 12.8% on an annual basis, significantly outperforming the drop seen in the wider EV industry.
  • Nio attributed the sales decline to ripple effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying that deliveries have been restricted since the company is taking a cautious approach to restarting its service operations and as people avoid public gatherings.
  • Founder William Li said the company has since made an “aggressive” push into online sales channels with “some encouraging order numbers,” but did not reveal further details.
  • Chinese media on Friday reported that the Tencent-backed EV maker captured more than 1.25 million views for its 925 livestreams on Chinese short-video platforms as of March 2.

Context: China’s new energy vehicles sales including all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids plummeted 77% year on year to around 11,000 units in February, marking the eight consecutive month of decline since July, according to figures released Monday by CPCA.

  • Nio reported a year-on-year decline of 12% to 1,598 units in January deliveries, bringing an end to five months of growth while issuing a warning about reduction in production and deliveries in February.
  • The Shanghai-based EV maker has raised a total $435 million via convertible bonds this year, along with a strategic investment project with the government of the eastern Chinese city of Hefei announced late last month.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com More by Jill Shen

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