The rising Chinese language electrical automotive model delivered extra automobiles than Nio in 2022

A pink Nezha V and black Nezha U Pro electric car model will be on display at a store in Shanghai on November 7, 2021.

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BEIJING – Another budget electric car brand is taking off in China, this time selling compact SUVs.

Named after a feisty Chinese mythological figure, Nezha claims its car deliveries more than doubled to over 152,000 vehicles in 2022. Most of the deliveries were for the Nezha V, a compact SUV that starts at 83,900 yuan ($12,000) after the subsidy.

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In contrast, noThe larger SUVs — with a longer range and many other features — start at around 400,000 yuan.

However, Nio delivered more than 122,000 electric cars in 2022, a modest 34% increase year over year. These include the company’s high-priced sedans.

Nio has stressed that its focus is on the more niche high-end segment, but has 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 estimated each model in the segment could sell more than 50,000 units a month, according to a FactSet transcript.

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

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The low-cost Hongguang Mini electric car has taken the best-selling spot among China’s new-energy passenger cars, a category that also includes hybrids. Annual sales topped 370,000 vehicles in November, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

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

Nezha also said it exported about 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 showing that it is looking for partners in the Philippines and Cambodia.

The company is a brand of the startup Hozon Auto. By July 2022, Nezha said it had raised nearly 10 billion yuan for its Series D, or fourth phase 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 cars.

And despite the impact of Covid controls on China’s retail sales in 2022, electric car sales remained an island of growth.

More than a quarter of the passenger cars sold in 2022 by the end of November were new energy vehicles, according to the China Passenger Car Association. The association’s monthly figures are usually published in the middle of the month.

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However, the competition is tough. 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 earlier.

The company has a wide range of models. BYD’s new luxury brand Yangwang is scheduled to be presented in detail on Thursday.

Electric car brand Aion, a spin-off from state-owned company GAC Motor, said sales more than doubled in 2022 to a record high of 271,000 vehicles.

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

Li Auto delivers more than Nio

Nio’s growth in 2022 also lagged behind that of Li car, 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 increase battery range.

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

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