NIO (NYSE: NIO, HKG: 9866), XPeng Motors (NYSE: XPEV, HKG: 9868), and Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI, HKG: 2015) saw their deliveries plummet in April from March, as expected, in the wake of the Covid outbreak.
Some readers may wonder how these three companies compare, and how they compare to the broader industry.
NIO is the only one of these three companies that has made announcements about seeing temporary production shutdowns, but was not the hardest hit by the supply chain disruptions.
These figures show that compared to March, XPeng performed the best, NIO followed and Li Auto performed the worst.
This also puts NIO back ahead of Li Auto in terms of deliveries for the first time since last September.
Supply chain resilience
The performance also confirms Deutsche Bank analyst Edison Yu's previous judgment that XPeng's supply chain management is more resilient than its peers.
In a research note sent to investors on April 27, Yu's team said that XPeng's production and logistics appeared to be the least affected by the lockdown in Shanghai.
Other cities have also experienced lockdowns, and XPeng's supply chain management appears to be more resilient than its peers, perhaps because it has a large number of alternative suppliers, Yu said.
The company has a very large order backlog that can extend for months, which means demand should remain well above supply for the foreseeable future, according to Yu.
So far this year, China's auto supply chain has been hit first by the Covid lockdown in Jilin, one of the province's most important suppliers of auto parts.
In late March, the lockdown in Shanghai delivered another blow to the industry, causing serious disruptions to auto parts supplies in the city as well as in surrounding cities.
Investors need to remember that XPeng's headquarters and factory are located in Guangdong province in southern China. NIO's global headquarters is in Shanghai and its factory is in Hefei, Anhui province in east China. Li Auto's headquarters is in Beijing, but its factory is in Changzhou, Jiangsu province in east China.
Li Auto's Changzhou base is located in the heart of the Yangtze Delta, where more than 80 percent of the company's parts suppliers are located, with a large portion of them in Shanghai and Kunshan, Jiangsu province, said Shen Yanan, co-founder and president of Li Auto.
As a result of the Covid outbreak in the region, some suppliers in Shanghai and Kunshan were unable to supply, and some even shut down production completely, making it impossible for Li Auto to maintain production after its existing parts inventory was absorbed, Shen said.
This had a significant impact on Li Auto's production in April, resulting in delayed delivery of new vehicles for some customers, according to Shen.
NIO said on April 9 that it suspended production as Covid caused its supply chain partners in Jilin, Shanghai, Jiangsu and many other locations to stop production.
On April 14, the Economic Observer quoted an unnamed NIO insider as saying that the company's supply chain had recovered slightly and that the Hefei production base was gradually resuming production.
XPeng did not suspend production, but on April 14, its chairman and CEO He Xiaopeng issued a warning that drew widespread attention and a lot of support.
He said at the time that if companies in Shanghai and neighboring cities' auto supply chains could not yet find a way to dynamically resume production, then by May possibly all car companies in China would have to shut down production.
Overall performance of China's auto industry
Overall sales figures for China's auto industry, released by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) and the China Association of Automobile Makers (CAAM), are not expected to be released until the middle of this month, when the impact of Covid will be seen.
However, data released by the CPCA last week showed that daily retail sales of passenger cars in China averaged 27,000 units in the first to third weeks of April, down 39 percent year-on-year.
Wholesale sales fared even worse, reflecting the severe impact of logistics disruptions on deliveries.
In the first through third weeks of April, China's passenger car wholesale sales averaged 23,000 units per day, down 50 percent year-on-year. The average daily wholesale sales in the third week were 22,000 units, down 61 percent year-on-year.
The resumption of work in the auto industry since April 18 is still in the process of resuming stress tests to normal production, and the low wholesale sales are normal, but the decline is still beyond expectations, the CPCA said last week.
Things to re-emphasize
In fact, comparing absolute numbers of NIO, XPeng and Li Auto deliveries is not very meaningful, although many people like to do so.
This is because the three companies are targeting very different markets, and the prices of their products vary widely.
NIO targets the luxury car market, aiming to take market share of fuel cars from German luxury car companies including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
XPeng targets a broader market, hoping to attract a younger demographic with a more affordable price and sexy products.
Li Auto, on the other hand, targets families with children, becoming one of the top models for young parents today.
In terms of pricing, NIO has the most expensive models, with the cheapest ES6 starting at RMB 358,000. Starting May 10, the price of all NIO's SUV models will be raised by RMB 10,000 ($1,570).
Li Auto currently has only one model with extended-range technology, the Li ONE, and also only one price. The price of this model became RMB 11,800 higher on April 1, from RMB 338,000 to RMB 349,800.
XPeng's cheapest model is the G3i, which starts at RMB 169,800 after subsidies. Its most expensive model is now the P7, with a starting price of RMB 239,900 after subsidies.
In terms of average sales price, NIO is the highest of these three companies and XPeng is the lowest.
In the first 11 months of 2021, the average sales price of NIO vehicles was RMB 413,800, higher than Li Auto's RMB 333,600 and XPeng's RMB 236,900, according to local consulting firm Land Roads.