The new Chinese electric car brand delivered more cars than the Nio in 2022

Models of the pink Nezha V and black Nezha U Pro electric cars are displayed at a store in Shanghai on November 7, 2021.

Cost picture | Future edition | Getty Images

BEIJING — Another budget electric car brand is emerging in China, this time selling compact SUVs.

Nezha, named after a feisty Chinese mythological character, said its vehicle deliveries will double by 2022 to more than 152,000 vehicles. Most deliveries are for the Nezha V, a compact SUV with an after-subsidy price starting at 83,900 yuan ($12,000).

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On the other hand, NioLarger SUVs from – with a longer range and many other features – start at around 400,000 yuan.

However, Nio delivered over 122,000 electric cars in 2022, up 34% from last year. This includes the company’s premium sedans.

Nio emphasized that it is focused on the more niche and high-end segment, but hinted at plans to launch a mass-market brand.

In an earnings call in early November, CEO William Li said the company had a meeting that day with its mass-market team, expecting each model in the segment to sell more than 50,000 units per month, according to a FactSet transcript.

That’s potentially 600,000 cars per model per year.

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The Hongguang Mini economy electric car has taken the top-selling spot among new-energy passenger cars in China, a category that includes hybrids. In November, year-to-date sales topped 370,000 vehicles, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

However, the Hongguang Mini is a small car compared to Nezha’s SUVs and sedans.

Nezha also said it will export around 3,500 cars by 2022. Since late 2021, the company has expanded into Southeast Asia, starting with a partnership in Thailand. Nezha, also known as Neta, has an English-language website that says she is looking for partners in the Philippines and Cambodia.

The company is a brand under startup Hozon Auto. In July 2022, Nezha said it had raised nearly 10 billion yuan for its Series D, or fourth round of fundraising after the initial investment.

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The Chinese government has supported the development of the domestic electric car industry. Cities have preferential policies that encourage people to switch to electric vehicles.

And despite the drag of Covid controls on retail sales in China in 2022, electric car sales have remained a pocket of growth.

According to the China Passenger Car Association, more than a quarter of the passenger cars sold in 2022 through the end of November will be new energy vehicles. Monthly association numbers are usually released in the middle of the month.

However, the competition is fierce. Chinese battery and car manufacturer BYD remained a giant with sales of more than 911,000 electric cars in 2022, about 180% more than a year ago.

The company offers a wide range of models. BYD’s new luxury brand, Yangwang, is expected to have a detailed launch on Thursday.

Electric car brand Aion, a spin-off of state-owned GAC Motor, said sales will more than double by 2022 to a record 271,000 vehicles.

The new Aito brand co-developed by Huawei said that since deliveries began in March 2022, cumulative deliveries by the end of the year exceeded 75,000 vehicles.

Li Auto delivers more than the Nio

Nio’s growth in 2022 is also lower than Li-Auto, another US-listed Chinese electric car company whose SUVs are in a similar price range. However, the company’s cars are equipped with a fuel tank to extend battery life.

Li Auto said its deliveries for the year rose 47% to more than 133,000 cars.

Xpeng, which is also listed in the United States, saw slower growth of 23% year-over-year to more than 120,000 cars. The company’s latest car, the G9 SUV, marks the brand’s attempt to break out into the lower price range.

Tesla says its worldwide deliveries will increase 40% in 2022 to 1.31 million vehicles. The company did not include a breakdown for China, a key market for the automaker.

– CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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