Confirmed orders for the ES6 accounted for 35-40 percent of new orders in May, meaning inflows since the model's launch in the last week of May have been quite meaningful, Morgan Stanley said.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

The new ES6 is critical for (NYSE: NIO) to turn around its weak sales performance. So what has the model contributed to NIO since its launch? A new research note from Morgan Stanley provides a good reference.

NIO's overall new order intake hit a year-to-date high, boosted by the launch of the new ES6, analyst Tim Hsiao's team said in a research note sent to investors on June 5.

The team said they have been tracking some feedback from startups' major sales channels in major Chinese cities since early last year to better understand the latest market dynamics.

The team shared their key findings in their research note while noting the limitations of their sampling methodology.

Confirmed orders for the ES6 accounted for 35-40 percent of new orders in May, implying quite a meaningful inflow since the model hit the market in the last week of May, the team said.

As background, NIO officially launched the new ES6 on May 24 and delivered it to its first owners the same night, the fastest from launch to delivery in the company's history.

Including the battery, the new ES6 has a starting price of RMB 368,000 ($51,680), making it NIO's least expensive SUV.

NIO saw overall traffic at its flagship stores in Tier 1 cities increase 30-40 percent month-on-month in May and continued that momentum in early June after the company brought the new ES6 to market, Hsiao's team said, citing their latest checks.

"Overall store traffic at the stores we track is back to the level seen this February but still 20% below last September's level, when the company rolled out ET5," the team said.

NIO stores' retail conversion rate -- the ratio of orders to traffic -- remained largely steady at 5 percent in May, the team said, adding that consumers need more time to get a closer and deeper look at the new model and they expect conversion rates to climb gradually with broader test drives.

Hsiao's team believes the starting price for the new ES6 looks a bit conservative, but their checks last week at major NIO flagship stores in Tier 1 cities suggest that order momentum has been picking up.

"Certain stores we talked to further suggest that NIO's orders as a whole exceeded 9k units in May. Within this, ES6 basically dominated order inflow after taking confirmed orders from last week of May," the team said.

On a full-month basis, the new ES6 accounted for more than 35 percent of total orders, which suggests a quite meaningful turnaround at the end of the month, the team said.

Orders for NIO look a bit overly concentrated at the moment, Hsiao's team said, adding that some salespeople they interviewed suspended order intake for the ES8 and EC6 during the model changeover.

NIO's sedan models, such as the ET7, saw orders drop by about 20 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the team.

"ET5 and the all-new ES6 contribute about 80% of new orders, implying likely greater volatility if other high-margin models fail to catch up," the team said.

Notably, NIO is still in the process of getting the new ES6 capacity to climb, and the model contributed very little to deliveries last month.

The EV maker delivered 6,155 vehicles in May, down 7.55 percent from April and down 12.37 percent year-on-year, according to data released June 1.

The deliveries included 2,396 SUVs and 3,759 sedans, NIO said.

NIO will complete the capacity ramp for the new ES6 in June to deliver vehicles as soon as possible, Jim Wei, the company's senior vice president of customer operations, said in a June 1 announcement of May delivery figures on the NIO App.

($1 = RMB 7.1212)

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