Chinese electric vehicle maker Leapmotor said on Monday that it swung to a positive gross margin of 1.2% in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30 on the back of strong revenue growth, with the chief executive predicting a record performance for the remainder of the year.
Why it matters: The quarterly results come as the Zhejiang-based and Hong Kong-listed automaker has continued its solid growth momentum in the highly competitive home market and recently announced an ambitious global strategy that covers major regional markets from Europe to Asia Pacific.
- In addition, Leapmotor has reportedly been in talks with established automakers Volkswagen and Stellantis on potential collaborations that could include an investment deal, and on Monday expressed a willingness in its earnings report to “share” its technological capabilities with partners.
Details: Leapmotor on Monday posted a positive gross margin of 1.2% in the third quarter for the first time and “ahead of schedule,” compared with the negative margin of 8.9% it posted over the same period of last year and the negative 5.2% it achieved as of June. It initially aimed to achieve a positive margin by the end of this year.
- The company attributed the growth to the strong deliveries of its pricier C01 sedans and C11 crossovers, which have starting prices of RMB 145,800 and RMB 149,800 ($19,933 and $20,481) respectively, significantly higher than that of its earlier model the T03, which is priced from RMB 49,900.
- Quarterly deliveries for Leapmotor increased by 24.5% year-on-year to 44,325 units over the past three months, a record high for the seven-year-old startup, with those of C01 and C11 accounting for more than 80% of total deliveries.
- Revenue grew 31.9% year-on-year to nearly RMB 5.7 billion, with loss attributable to shareholders narrowing to RMB 986 million from the RMB 1.34 billion Leapmotor posted a year ago. Its research and development expenses of RMB 474 million during the quarter were up 17.3% year-on-year.
- “Based on the current order volume, our deliveries in the fourth quarter are expected to record a new high,” CEO Zhu Jiangming said. The company delivered 15,800 units last month, still far behind larger rivals BYD and Tesla but slightly ahead of peers including Hozon, Xpeng, and Zeekr.
Context: Leapmotor followed the suit of BYD and Li Auto earlier than most Chinese EV startups, betting on both pure EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) with the launches of the extended-range C11 and C01 earlier this year.
- PHEVs reported an impressive growth rate of 84.5% for the first nine months of this year in China, compared with battery EVs’ 18.1%, according to figures released by the China Passenger Car Association.
- Meanwhile, on Aug. 1 the company announced a new round of price cuts of up to RMB 20,000 across its lineups, reversing its previous decision to keep prices stable along with several other EV makers in March.
- On Sept. 4 in Munich, Germany, Leapmotor unveiled the Leap 3.0, its proprietary vehicle architecture, and the C10, a mid-size SUV and the first model built upon it. Zhu said the company plans to launch five models in two years in markets including Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East.