Chinese electric vehicle makers Xpeng Motors and Aito on Wednesday posted record-breaking figures for monthly deliveries, as the pace of adoption of self-driving technology accelerates among local customers despite slowing growth in China’s electric vehicle segment as a whole.
Strong orders for Huawei, Xpeng, and DJI’s city NOA (Navigation on ADAS) products mark the start of the commercialization of smart driving, Jefferies analysts wrote in an Oct. 24 note. They added that Chinese automakers are becoming more willing to “test the waters” with chips by Huawei on some of their vehicles.
Why it matters: The latest figures highlight a brutal price war that has been continuing for months in the market, and the struggle automakers are facing in having to choose between lower prices or losing market share.
- Xpeng in June unveiled the G6, its crossover answer to Tesla’s Model Y, at a price tag 20% lower than its US rival in China. Aito’s all-new M7 sports utility vehicle now costs RMB 40,000 ($5,468) less than the version launched a year ago.
Riding the self-driving boom: Xpeng Motors handed over 20,002 electric cars to customers in October, crossing the 20,000 unit milestone, nearly a threefold increase from a year ago and 31% growth from September.
- Aito also reported a record delivery number of 12,700 units last month. The Huawei-backed brand does not report its delivery figures consistently, but its Shanghai-listed manufacturer Seres posted sales of 40,389 EVs for the first nine months of the year.
- The two companies appear to have taken an early lead in an emerging battlefield for partially autonomous technology among consumer carmakers. More than half of the orders of Aito’s redesigned M7 SUV were placed for versions with Huawei’s Advanced Driving System, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported on Oct. 7, citing company insiders.
- The Max versions of Xpeng’s G6 crossover, which features the company’s XNGP assisted driving technology, accounted for 70% of total orders in the first month after the launch, chief executive He Xiaopeng said in August. Both companies said their vehicles would be able to travel autonomously most of the time in dozens of major Chinese cities by the end of the year.
EV startups: Li Auto also accomplished a delivery milestone last month, distributing 40,422 vehicles, making its year-to-date deliveries 284,647 units, the highest among the country’s nascent EV startups. The company has upped its goal to 50,000 units for the remaining two months of the year, CEO Li Xiang said on Wednesday on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo.
- NIO’s October delivery of 16,074 units represented a 59.8% growth from this time last year and a slight 2.8% increase month over month. The company has delivered 126,067 vehicles as of October this year, still far from the annual goal of 245,000 units revealed by CEO William Li in March. It is now aiming for monthly delivery of more than 20,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2023.
- Leapmotor’s delivery of 18,202 EVs last month comes after the Zhejiang-based EV maker recently announced a deal with European major Stellantis for a $1.6 billion war chest and turned its negative gross margin into a positive for the past quarter. Rival Hozon delivered 12,085 units, representing a decrease of 32.9% year-on-year and 8.5% month-on-month.
Established majors: BYD’s growth momentum continued to some extent in October as the company saw sales surpassing 301,000 vehicles with a mild 5.2% rise from a month earlier. Analysts expect China’s biggest EV maker to achieve its annual goal of selling 3 million cars this year, as the company on Monday launched a wagon version of its popular Song SUV and readied to sell its long-anticipated Bao 5 off-roader.
- Sales for Aion declined 19.6% from a month earlier to 41,503 units, as the GAC subsidiary ramps up production of its new models, company insiders told financial media outlet CLS. Changan-affiliated Deepal delivered 15,513 vehicles in October, a 10.7% decrease from September.
- Zeekr delivered 13,077 vehicles last month, up 29.2% from a year ago and 8.5% from September. On Aug. 11, the two-year-old premium EV brand, set up by Volvo parent Geely, cut the price of its 001 hatchback by up to RMB 37,000 to RMB 269,000 for a limited period until the end of this year.
- Voyah saw its deliveries grow 21% on a monthly basis in October after the Dongfeng-backed EV maker launched its redesigned Free SUV in August, with the model arriving 15% cheaper than the previous version and equipped with Baidu’s advanced driver-assist system.
Context: Retail sales of new energy passenger vehicles, including all-electrics and plug-in hybrids, are expected to reach 750,000 units in October, up 34.6% year-on-year and 0.9% month-on-month, according to estimates from the China Passenger Car Association. The past two months, known as “Golden September, Silver October,” are traditionally peak seasons for auto sales in China.