Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker NIO (NYSE: NIO) delivered 7,225 vehicles in January, up 352.1% year-on-year and setting a new monthly record.
The deliveries consisted of 1,660 ES8s, a 6-seater, and 7-seater flagship premium smart electric SUV, 2,720 ES6s, a 5-seater high-performance premium smart electric SUV, and 2,845 EC6s, a 5-seater premium electric coupe SUV.
As of January 31, 2021, cumulative deliveries of the ES8, ES6 and EC6 reached 82,866 vehicles.
The delivery volume for NIO is unexpectedly high, as January is considered to be the month where it will be hit the hardest by the dramatic price reductions of the China-made Tesla Model Y.
On January 1, the China-made Tesla Model Y went on sale, with the long-range and performance versions priced at RMB 339,900 and RMB 369,900 respectively, down RMB 148,100 and RMB 165,100 respectively from the previous imported version.
After this announcement, the order page on Tesla's website was down for a while. Tesla Weibo on the same day in Weibo, the official website order page may be temporarily unable to refresh due to the surge of visits.
Then there were rumors that China-made Model Y orders exceeded 100,000. However, Tesla insiders said that the figure was exaggerated, but indeed sales were hot.
On January 3, William Li Bin, chairman of NIO, said that the pricing of the China-made Model Y was higher than he expected and that he had expected it to be within 300,000 yuan.
NIO, considered the "Chinese version of Tesla," is seen as facing severe competitive pressure. Citi analyst Jeff Chung downgraded NIO from Buy to Neutral in early January but raised his price target 47 percent to $68.30 from $46.40.
NIO launched its first sedan, the NIO ET7, with a maximum range of more than 1,000 kilometers and a price starting at 448,000 yuan ($69,000) without subsidies at NIO Day 2020 on Jan. 9.
Chung said the ET7 is good, but not enough to make any significant changes to the challenges Tesla faces.
He estimated that incremental sales of the ET7 will be limited to about 3,000 to 4,000 units per month, starting in the first quarter of 2022.
The analyst added that the ET7 could also be challenged by future revisions of Tesla's Model S, while a price cut for the Model Y could create head-to-head competition with NIO's EC6.
But this judgment is not the same as what William Li Bin, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO, thinks.
In an interview with media including cnEVpost in Chengdu on January 10, Li said that Tesla's Model S, with a price over RMB 700,000, will definitely not be able to match the sales of ET7.
Li also said that what Tesla is doing may not be suitable for NIO. Car companies need to consider whether the product and service experience can match the corresponding price, and they also need to consider the user value and target customer group.
In January, NIO made adjustments from battery swap service to increase user rights and benefits, and this move was also seen as NIO's move to fight against Tesla's price reduction.