Xpeng, NIO, Li Auto shrug off Covid-19 lockdowns, production slowdown to post bumper sales in March

  • Xpeng topped its peers with sales rising nearly 150 per cent month on month in March to 15,414 units
  • Carmakers’ sales in the second quarter will be affected by China’s Covid-19 outbreaks as they will have to overcome supply chain issues to maintain production

China’s three biggest smart-electric carmakers reported bumper deliveries in March after stuttering a month earlier, shrugging off the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on sales and production, but market observers warned of a bumpy road ahead.

Guangzhou-based Xpeng Motors topped its peers, delivering 15,414 cars last month, a 148 per cent increase month on month.

Shanghai-headquartered NIO saw sales rise 63 per cent to 9,985 vehicles, while Beijing-based Li Auto delivered 11,034 vehicles, up 31 per cent month on month.

“Our overall production has been affected by the shortage of certain auto parts resulting from the resurging Covid-19 cases recently in the Yangtze Delta region,” Kevin Shen, co-founder and president of Li Auto, said in a statement. “We continue to take measures to ensure supply and safeguard production, aiming to shorten the delivery waiting time for our users.”

A global chip shortage has affected the supply of semiconductors for the car industry


The results come at a time when Shanghai, a major production base for China’s automotive industry and the country’s commercial capital, is under an unprecedented lockdown to contain its worst Covid-19 outbreak since early 2020. The city of 25 million residents has virtually no stores open, with most residents required to stay at home. Car factories have not been exempted either, with Tesla forced to shut its Shanghai factory for two days last month.

“The Covid-19 outbreak will affect carmakers’ sales in the second quarter, and the smart EV start-ups will have to overcome supply chain issues to maintain high production volume,” said Chen Jinzhu, CEO of Shanghai Mingliang Auto Service. “A shortfall of automotive chips and batteries will continue to slow the pace of growth of the three mainland smart EV companies.”

A global chip shortage has greatly affected the supply of semiconductors for the car industry. This has forced car buyers in China to wait for several months for deliveries, as assemblers and component manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand, the Post reported in February.

William Li, founder and chief executive officer of NIO, said in a statement last month after the company released its 2021 earnings that it delivered a strong performance “despite all the challenges, particularly supply chain volatilities”.

The company delivered 91,429 vehicles in 2021, up 109 per cent from a year earlier.

The three smart EV carmakers, listed in both Hong Kong and New York, reported weak month-on-month deliveries in February, as the Lunar New Year holiday disrupted sales and production, while a cut in cash subsidies to encourage purchases of new-energy vehicles also weighed on sales.

Author: Tracy Qu, SCMP

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