A Li Xiang One hybrid SUV is on display at the China Import and Export Fair Complex, China, during the 18th Guangzhou International Auto Show on November 23, 2020.
Li Zhihao | Visual China Group | Getty Images
BEIJING – At the beginning of 2021, Chinese automaker Li Auto is in third place behind its start-up competitors Nio and Xpeng with a drop in deliveries in January.
Li Auto, listed on the Nasdaq, said late Monday, Eastern Time, it shipped 5,379 Li One SUVs in January. That is less than 6,126 deliveries in December and less than Nios 7,225 and Xpeng's 6,015 deliveries in January.
Li Auto also announced that it will establish a new research and development center in Shanghai for autonomous driving and other technologies related to electric vehicles.
Li Auto's shares fell the hardest among competitors in US trading on Tuesday, down 5.7% from losses of about 4.6% for Xpeng and 2.1% for Nio. Tesla shares rose 3.9%.
Competition for high-end electric SUVs increased in January, and Tesla announced it would soon begin shipping its China-made Model Y at a price close to that of Nio and Li Auto cars. Tesla has delivered 180,570 electric cars worldwide in the last three months of 2020 alone.
The Li One SUV is the first and so far only model from Li Auto. According to China's Passenger Car Association, it was the best-selling high-end electric SUV in 2020 and even made it into the top 10 list of high-end SUVs overall along with Nio.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, the Li One SUV is characterized by its fuel tank that can charge the battery and extend the range by 620 kilometers to a total of 800 kilometers.
One of the biggest concerns Chinese consumers have when buying an electric car is whether the battery will run out too quickly, with no charging station nearby, or with long charging times.
Deliveries of 5,379 Li One SUVs in January still quadrupled from the same period last year, and cumulative deliveries have exceeded 38,900 since the vehicle launched in December 2019, according to Li Auto.
That is less than half of the over 82,800 vehicles that Nio delivered cumulatively at the end of January. Nio has three SUV models on the market and plans to start delivering a sedan next year.