Chinese EV makers saw a flat month overall in May, with 0% growth in the market from April. However, some EV makers are squeezing out growth more than others. BYD, Aion, and Li Auto managed to report monthly growth of around 10% to 14%, while Nio saw delivery figures sink to its lowest level in 12 months. Xpeng Motors and Zeekr look on track for a modest recovery. 

Why it matters: Total sales in China of new energy vehicles, including all-electrics and plug-in hybrids, were relatively flat in May despite an outstanding performance by major Chinese electric vehicle makers, highlighting the growing advantage of domestic players over foreign counterparts amid rising competition.

  • Automakers mostly saw a slowdown in new order intakes and foot traffic at showrooms during the second half of May due to a new surge in Covid cases, weak consumer sentiment, and the phase-out of regional subsidies by some local Chinese governments, analysts at investment bank Jefferies wrote in a note on Thursday, citing Sun Shaojun, founder of auto consumer service platform Carfans.
  • Sun expects a strong recovery during June and July, as multiple domestic players begin mass delivery of new models. Sales of passenger EVs were around 483,000 units during May 1-28, up 82% thanks to a low base from a year ago due to Covid lockdowns. However, May deliveries showed no growth from the previous month, according to figures from the China Passenger Car Association.

Strong growth: BYD reported a record high in monthly vehicle sales at 240,220 units, up 108.9% from a year ago and 14.2% from April. This was buoyed by price cuts from dealerships and the launches of multiple cheaper models, including the new Han and Tang models with smaller batteries and the entry-level Seagull. Its premium brand Denza also posted impressive results of 11,005 vehicles delivered.

  • GAC’s EV unit Aion and EV startup Li Auto also hit new milestones with deliveries of 45,003 and 28,277 vehicles last month, representing a monthly growth of 9.73% and 10.1%, respectively. The two companies have set goals of selling up to 600,000 and 300,000 vehicles this year, which would more than double their totals from last year.
  • Hozon and Leapmotor both reported strong May sales of 13,029 and 12,058 units, respectively, after announcing “price protection” measures in March to counter a months-long price war ignited by Tesla. Historically a budget carmaker, Hozon said it delivered 1,716 Neta GT sports cars, launched last month and priced from RMB 178,800 ($25,276).

Under pressure: Nio on Thursday revealed that its monthly delivery figures have fallen for four months in a row to 6,155 units in May, as fierce competition and an aging product lineup continue to weigh on the Shanghai-based EV maker. On May 24, the company began handing over its all-new ES6 crossovers to customers and said mass delivery of its redesigned ET5 sedans would begin later this month.

  • Xpeng’s May delivery was 6% higher from a month earlier, as the EV maker began delivering the P7i, a revamped version of its popular P7 sedans in March. The modest growth was due to supply chain constraints, with chief executive He Xiaopeng recently telling investors the company would “significantly” ramp up production of the key components for P7i with partners in June.
  • Geely’s premium brand Zeekr posted deliveries of 8,678 units last month, a 7% increase from April. Its new compact SUV, the X, is scheduled for delivery this month. Rival Deepal began shipping the S7, its second model, on Tuesday, with monthly deliveries of Changan’s EV marque reaching 7,021 units in May, a 9.5% decline from April.
  • Aito’s sales rose 22.8% month-on-month to 5,629 units in May. The Huawei-backed EV maker began selling a top-end version of its M5 plug-in hybrid crossover equipped with Huawei components and software for automated driving in April, with delivery scheduled to begin on June 18. Meanwhile, sales of Dongfeng’s EV unit Voyah fell 10.1% to 3,003 units from a month ago.

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