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Investors Business Daily

China EV Sales: Tesla Rivals Nio, Li Auto, XPeng, BYD Rise On March Deliveries

China EV makers Nio, Li Auto and XPeng reported March and first-quarter deliveries on Monday, April 1, meeting or just exceeding low expectations. China EV and battery giant BYD reported a big bounce in March sales as well.

Shares of all four Tesla rivals rose slightly Monday.

All reported a rebound in March from a slow February, due to China New Year holidays. The EV makers all released new or refreshed models in the past several weeks. But all are seen reporting a big decline vs. the fourth quarter, with Nio and especially Li Auto cutting first-quarter targets recently.

EV giant Tesla is expected to report first-quarter global deliveries on Tuesday, April 2. Deliveries are set to tumble vs. the fourth quarter and perhaps fall vs. Q1 2023 levels. However, the U.S. EV giant will reclaim its title for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) from BYD, which will still outsell Tesla including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

Nio Deliveries

Nio delivered 11,886 vehicles in March for a total of 30,053 BEVs in the first quarter. On March 27, Nio cut its Q1 delivery forecast to around 30,000 vehicles, down from its March 5 target of 31,000-33,000. Nio delivered 10,055 in January and 8,132 in February.

Also on April 1, Nio announced big subsidies for trading in traditional gasoline cars for buying a new Nio EV.

Li Auto Deliveries

Li Auto delivered 28,984 EVs in March and 80,400 for Q1. That topped Li's March 21 guidance of 76,000-78,000 deliveries vs. its Feb. 26 estimate of 100,000-103,000.

Li Auto blamed weak demand for the high-end Mega minivan. Its first BEV launched on March 1 with deliveries starting days later. But the magnitude of the March miss suggested broader weakness for Li Auto's L7, L8 and L9 SUVs. Those vehicles are extended-range EVs, essentially a form of plug-in hybrid.

Li's March sales rose from February's 20,151, but were below January's 31,165.

XPeng Deliveries

XPeng delivered 9,026 EVs in March and 21,821 for Q1. That was in line with its recent target for Q1 deliveries of 21,000-22,500. XPeng delivered 8,250 in January and 4,545 in February.

Also Monday, XPeng doubled incentives on its flagship SUV, the G9.

BYD Sales

BYD sold 302,459 vehicles in March, up from just 122,311 EVs in February and January's 201,493, but below December's record 341,043. The includes 139,902 passenger BEVs and 161,729 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

In Q1, BYD sold 612,315 vehicles, up 8% vs. a year earlier, with passenger BEVs up 9% to 291,730.

BYD has slashed prices across most of its lineup over the past several weeks, taking advantage of lower battery prices and its low-cost leadership.

March sales included a record 38,434 exports. Overseas sales are a growing share of BYD demand and expected to keep increasing in the coming months.

Tesla Deliveries Plunge As Bulls Pin Hopes On FSD; BYD Leads Price War

China EV Competition

After the typical weak start for China EV sales, companies have refreshed or rolled out new models at aggressive prices. But they are all competing with one another amid a struggling Chinese economy.

Aito, one of several EV brands backed by Chinese telecom gear, chip and handset giant Huawei, is a likely culprit for Li Auto's slashed delivery forecast.

China EV handset giant Xiaomi has made a big entry in the EV market. On Friday, Xiaomi claimed 120,000 orders in 36 hours for its SU7 sedan, which offers advanced smart car connectivity and undercuts the Tesla Model 3 by more than $4,000. The SU7 will also compete with sedans from Nio, XPeng, BYD and many others.

Along with deep-pocketed Geely, which owns Zeekr and other EV brands, it's a steep climb for China EV makers, especially those like Nio and XPeng that are still losing money. Xiaomi concedes it'll lose month on every SU7 sold.

China EV Stocks

Nio stock rose 3.1% to 4.64 on Monday. Shares skidded 21.7% in March and dived 50.4% for the first quarter, hitting their worst levels since June 2020.

Li Auto gained 1.1% to 30.62, though off morning highs. Shares hit a six-month high in late February, approaching all-time levels. But as the Mega minivan turned into mega-letdown, LI stock plunged 34% in March and 19.1% for Q1.

XPeng stock advanced 1% to 7.76. Shares tumbled 18.6% in March and 47.4% in Q1, nearly undercutting June 2023 lows.

BYD stock climbed 2.15 to 25.85. BYD actually rose 2.5% in March, though it faded late in the month. Shares sank 8.6% in Q1.

Chinese EV makers were rallying in part on strong China economic data over the weekend.

Tesla stock edged down 0.3% to 175.22, but came off intraday lows. Shares retreated 12.9% in March, even with modest gains in the past two weeks. TSLA stock plunged 29.25% in Q1, the worst performer on the S&P 500 so far.

Please follow Ed Carson on Threads at @edcarson1971 and X/Twitter at @IBD_ECarson for stock market updates and more.

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