Nio and Li Auto’s vehicle deliveries halved in April compared to the previous month, while Xpeng saw a nearly 41% drop. These Chinese EV upstarts have cut production as China fights a new wave of widespread coronavirus outbreaks with frequent lockdown measures since late March.

Why it matters: The massive drop comes as a wave of omicron cases and strict lockdown measures have led to severe supply chain and logistical disruptions to automakers and parts suppliers in Shanghai and surrounding areas, a major auto manufacturing hub for the country.

Details: Li Auto took the biggest hit among the main Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers, reporting a 62% monthly drop to 4,167 vehicle deliveries for April. Nio saw vehicle deliveries plunge nearly 50% to 5,074 units in April from a month earlier, while Xpeng’s volume dropped 41.6% to 9,002 over the same period.

  • Li Auto’s vehicle assemblies in Changzhou, a neighboring city to Shanghai in the eastern Jiangsu province, sat idle after stockpiles of components became depleted during the past month. Over 80% of the company’s parts suppliers are located within the region and many were hit by factory disclosures and logistics difficulties over the period, president Shen Yanan said in an announcement.
  • With a factory in the eastern city of Hefei and its global headquarters in Shanghai, Nio was also forced to halt operations for a few days early last month before parts of its business resumed operations beginning April 14. Xpeng was less affected due to its operations being primarily based in the southern city of Guangzhou, saying that it is navigating the pandemic-driven disruption.
  • Some traditional auto majors with southern bases weathered the storm better, with Shenzhen-based BYD selling (in Chinese) 106,042 vehicles to customers in April, up 313% from a year ago and 1% up a month earlier. State-owned GAC, also with manufacturing bases in the southern Guangdong province, said that deliveries of its Aion-branded EVs increased 23% year-on-year to around 10,200 last month.
  • The ongoing lockdowns have also had minor effects on smaller players such as Leapmotor and Hozon, which reported decreases of 9.7% and 26.7%, respectively, in April deliveries month-on-month. Leapmotor delivered 9,087 vehicles last month, followed by Hozon’s 8,813, local media reported.

Context: The China Passenger Car Association projected total passenger vehicle sales in China in April will plunge to 1.1 million units, a 31.9% drop compared to the same period last year, as the auto industry needs time to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

  • Some automakers like Tesla and Volkswagen are gradually resuming production at their factories in Shanghai and the surrounding areas, which have been shut down for weeks due to the lockdowns but still face various hurdles such as parts shortages and a limited workforce.

Jill Shen

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