Pink Nezha V and black Nezha U Pro electric car models are displayed at a store in Shanghai on November 7, 2021.
Cost Photo | Edition of the future | Getty Images
BEIJING — Another budget electric car brand is taking off in China, this time selling compact SUVs.
Nezha, named after a feisty Chinese mythological character, says its car deliveries have more than doubled in 2022 to over 152,000 vehicles. Most of the deliveries were 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, NioThe larger SUVs from – with longer range and plenty of other features – start at around 400,000 yuan.
However, Nio delivered over 122,000 electric cars in 2022, up a modest 34% from the previous year. This includes the company’s premium sedans.
Nio stressed that he was focusing 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, which expected 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.
The Hongguang Mini economy electric car has taken the top-selling spot among new-energy passenger cars in China, a category that includes hybrids. By November, year-to-date sales had 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 exported around 3,500 cars in 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 the 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.
China’s EV market shakes off economic downturn
The Chinese government has supported the development of the domestic electric car industry. Cities have preferential policies that encourage people to switch to electric cars.
And despite the drag of Covid controls on retail sales in China in 2022, electric car sales remained a pocket of growth.
According to the China Passenger Car Association, more than a quarter of passenger cars sold in 2022 through the end of November were new energy vehicles. The association’s monthly figures 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, around 180% more than a year earlier.
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 more than doubled in 2022 to a record 271,000 vehicles.
The new Aito brand co-developed by Huawei said that since the start of deliveries in March 2022, cumulative deliveries by the end of the year exceeded 75,000 vehicles.
Li Auto delivers more than Nio
Nio’s growth in 2022 was also lower than that of 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, also listed in the United States, saw slower growth of 23% year-on-year to more than 120,000 cars. The company’s newest car, the G9 SUV, marks the brand’s attempt to break out of a lower price range.
Tesla said its worldwide deliveries increased by 40% in 2022 to 1.31 million vehicles. The company did not include a breakdown for China, a major market for the automaker.
– CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.