Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng stands next to the company's P7 electric sedan speaking to the media at the 2020 Beijing Auto Show.
Evelyn Cheng | CNBC
BEIJING – Two of the US-listed Chinese electric car startups beat market expectations on their deliveries in March, with both companies breaking quarterly records.
Xpeng said Thursday it shipped 5,102 cars in March, beating implied shipments of 4,262 cars for that month. The company delivered a total of 13,340 vehicles in the first quarter, beating its forecast of 12,500 for the period.
Nio announced delivery of 7,257 vehicles in March, bringing the total to 20,060 vehicles in the first three months of the year – most for each quarter, according to the company.
This is in line with Nio's original forecast for the first quarter of 20,000 to 20,500 vehicles. Nio cut its forecast to 19,500 cars last week after announcing a five-day factory closure due to a semiconductor shortage.
Both companies' stocks rose more than 1% during Thursday's trading session in New York. After the increase in 2020, the stocks remain in negative territory for the year to date.
Xpeng's March shipments were roughly split between the company's P7 sedan and G3 SUV. Among Nio's three models – all SUVs – the company said its five-seat ES6 saw the most demand, with more than 3,000 deliveries last month.
The delivery rate is "a very positive indicator of growth in the Chinese EV market for the remainder of the year," wrote Wedbush analysts Dan Ives and Strecker Backe. They also predict March was a good month for Tesla in China and expect electric vehicle inventories to grow 30% to 40% this year.
BYD's outstanding sales in March
However, the startups' record quarterly deliveries still pale in comparison to Chinese electric vehicle and battery maker BYD.
The company's Han model alone, which is available in both hybrid and all-electric versions, sold over 10,000 units in March, BYD management told Citi analysts in a call on Tuesday. BYD's total sales of new energy vehicles were 23,000 units last month, according to Citi.
BYD estimates 30,000 cars can only be sold in the battery-powered category as of December, Citi said.
Another US-listed Chinese electric car start-up, Li Auto, did not publish any figures for the first quarter in Beijing on Friday morning.
The company forecast in February it would ship between 10,500 and 11,500 cars or fewer than 4,000 vehicles per month in the first quarter. The only Li Auto model on the market is an SUV that is equipped with a fuel tank to charge the battery.
Li Auto shares rose 1% on Thursday and have fallen about 12% year-to-date.