China's major new car makers announced their December deliveries in the past two days and, as usual, Deutsche Bank analyst Edison Yu's team provided their take.
For these five start-ups, Li Auto leads the pack with more than 21,000 units, showing strong execution and sequential growth, Yu's team said in a research note sent to investors today.
NIO disappointed with lower-than-forecast deliveries due to Covid reopening related production, logistics headwinds, the team said.
Considering all the industry volatility, Zeekr's sales performance was the biggest positive surprise of last year, the team noted.
Here's what Yu's team had to say about December deliveries for these EV makers.
LI shines while NIO disappoints in Dec; Zeekr biggest surprise of 2022
Closing out the year, NEV monthly retail sales hit a new record high with Dec likely coming in around 700k, beating our forecast.
For the Fab 5 upstarts, Li Auto led the way with >21k units, demonstrating strong execution and sequential growth.
XPeng showed meaningful improvement from recent months and beat 4Q guidance but the new G9 still has much to prove in the marketplace.
NIO disappointed with deliveries missing our forecast (cut guidance last week), citing COVID re-open production/logistics headwinds.
Zeekr maintained its strong performance with another record month while Neta saw a steep sequential decline in sales.
Looking back at 2022, we were most impressed by Zeekr, selling nearly 72k units in its first full year of operation, all from one model (001) and thought XPeng was most disappointing (which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone) having seen a very rapid decline in its order book starting back in the summer.
December EV sales
Li Auto delivered a record 21,333 vehicles (+42% MoM, +51% YoY), in-line with our forecast. Both the L8 and L9 sold >10,000 units during the month. This took 4Q22 deliveries to 46,319 (achieving guidance 45,000-48,000) and full-year to 133,246 (+47% YoY).
The company exited the month with 288 retail stores and 318 servicing centers. Separately, management will hold a launch event for the new L7 on Feb 8th and showroom test drives will be available the day after.
NIO delivered only 15,815 units (+12% MoM, +51% YoY), missing our forecast. The recent COVID re-open pivot has caused a massive surge in cases across major urban areas; management believes 3,000-4,000 vehicles were likely stuck in logistics, unable to get delivered in time.
Deliveries of ET5 encouragingly rose sequentially to 7,594 units compared to 2,968 in Nov. ET7 was materially weaker at only 1,379, raising questions on the true demand trajectory for the flagship sedan while ES7 performed much better relatively at 4,154.
Total 4Q22 deliveries came in at 40,052 units, below initial guidance of 43,000-48,000 (lowered last week to 38,500-39,500); full-year grew 34% YoY to 122,486. The company exited the month with 402 retail locations (99 Houses + 303 Spaces), 1,315 battery swap stations and 1,228 power charger stations.
XPeng delivered 11,292 units (+94% MoM; -29% YoY), beating our expectations. G9 volume improved to 4,020 units vs. 1,546 in Nov but upside appeared to come from P5 which management incentivized heavily in the month. This brought 4Q22 deliveries to 22,204 (above guidance 20,000-21,000) and full-year to 120,757 (+23% YoY).
Zeekr delivered record monthly sales again at 11,337 vehicles (+3% MoM; +199% YoY), up from Nov's 11,011. Average order valued held steady at +336k RMB. This brought 4Q22 deliveries to 32,467 units and full-year to 71,941, hitting management's original 70,000 target set at the beginning of 2022.
We found Zeekr's sales performance to be the biggest positive surprise last year considering all the industry volatility and attribute this to a combination of brand differentiation (unique shooting brake design), product responsiveness (include new tech onboard + big OTA roll-out during summer), and operational efficiency (focus on one model + mitigate supply chain risks).
Hozon sold only 7,795 units of its Neta-branded EVs (-48% MoM; -23% YoY), showing significant slow down in momentum. Our guess is that there may have been some fleet deals that either didn't materialize or slipped into 2023. This brought full-year sales to 152,073 units (+118% YoY).