Li Auto brought a lower-priced Air version to its product matrix for the first time, with the Li L7 Air and Li L8 Air powered by batteries from Svolt Energy and Sunwoda, respectively.
Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI) made its first five-seat SUV, the Li L7, available and started to offer a new, lower-priced variant of the Li L8, as it began introducing new battery suppliers in addition to CATL.
The automaker officially made the Li L7 available at a launch event today. The model was briefly unveiled at the launch of the Li L8 last September 30 and was the latest addition to Li Auto's extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs) offerings.
Li Auto said last September that the Li L7 would be offered in two versions, Pro and Max, with starting prices of RMB 339,800 ($50,090) and 379,800, respectively.
The company announced at today's event that in addition to these two versions, the Li L7 will also be available in an Air version with a starting price of RMB 319,800.
In addition to the Li L7 Air, Li Auto is also offering an Air version of the Li L8 with a starting price of RMB 339,800, while the Li L8 was previously available in Pro and Max versions with starting prices of RMB 359,800 and RMB 399,800, respectively.
With the launch of the Air versions, Li Auto brought in new battery suppliers other than CATL -- Sunwoda Electric Vehicle Battery and Svolt Energy -- to its supply system for the first time. Previously the automaker's batteries were supplied exclusively by CATL.
Both battery manufacturers have established dedicated production lines for Li Auto to produce the carmaker's in-house developed packs.
The Li L7 Air will be powered by batteries supplied by Svolt Energy, while the Li L8 Air will use Sunwoda's batteries.
The performance, quality and warranty policies of the Air versions of the Li L7 and Li L8 are the same as those of the Pro and Max versions.
In addition to the different battery suppliers, both the Li L7 Air and Li L8 Air eliminate the air suspension that the Pro and Max versions have.
Deliveries of the Li L7 Pro and Li L7 Max will begin on March 1, and deliveries of the Li L7 Air will begin in early April. Interested customers will be able to test drive the Li L7 at Li Auto's retail centers beginning February 9.
Deliveries of the Li L8 Air will also begin in early April.
All of Li Auto's current models are EREVs, which are essentially PHEVs. Chinese policy is more inclined to support battery electric vehicles (BEVs), for example, Shanghai has stopped offering free license plates for PHEVs starting this year, while BEVs can continue to get them.
The launch of the Li L7 Air and Li L8 Air confirms a rumor from two days ago when local media reported that Li Auto would offer a lower-priced Air version of the Li L7 and Li L8.
The Li L7 and Li L8 are the two lower-priced models Li Auto is selling. The company's flagship model is the Li L9, which is currently only offered in Max version with a starting price of RMB 459,800.
Li Auto originally planned to offer six- and five-seat versions of the Li L8, but later adjusted its strategy and released the model's six-seat version as the Li L8. The five-seat version was launched as the Li L7.
This series of adjustments is part of Li Auto's increased efforts to tap the premium SUV market in the price range of RMB 300,000 to 500,000.
On January 30, Li Auto founder, chairman and CEO Li Xiang said on Weibo that the Li L9 will remain in the RMB 400,000-500,000 price range, and the Li L8 and Li L7 will continue to target the RMB 300,000-400,000 price range.
Li Auto's midsize Li L6 and non-SUV form factor Li L5 will stick to the RMB 200,000-300,000 price range, he said.
The company will not launch a model priced under RMB 200,000 and will strictly adhere to the price range of the three (full-size, mid to large-size, mid-size) size classes, he said.