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China EV Sales For Li Auto, BYD On Tap; Tesla Offers Fresh Discounts

China EV makers Li Auto (LI), Nio (NIO), XPeng (XPEV) and perhaps industry titan BYD (BYDDF) will reveal January deliveries on Thursday, with all indications that demand has been sluggish to start 2024.

Tesla announced new Model Y discounts in China on Feb. 1, following official price cuts on the Model Y and Model 3 in January.

China passenger new energy vehicles through Jan. 29. were up 92% vs. a year earlier but down 24% vs. December, the China Passenger Car Association disclosed Wednesday.

Insurance registrations signal significant declines for Li Auto, Nio, XPeng, BYD and Tesla (TSLA), which will not release monthly figures. That comes despite significant discounts for Li, Nio, XPeng and BYD, as well as outright price cuts by Tesla.

EV and overall auto sales tend to be sluggish early in the year. There's often a drop-off from a year-end sales peak. Also, the long Lunar New Year holiday hits production and demand. Lunar New Year starts on Feb. 10 in 2024. That points to another weak month of EV sales.

Meanwhile, China's economy is sluggish, further weighing on purchases. Also, new or revitalized entrants, such as Huawei-backed Aito, are putting further pressure on EV makers.

Li Auto

Through Jan. 28, new insurance registrations totaled 27,100 for Li Auto.

In December, Li Auto delivered a record 50,353 vehicles. Li sells three SUVs, all extended range electric vehicles (EREVs), essentially a form of plug-in hybrid. It will begin selling its first all-electric battery vehicle, the Mega MPV, this spring.

Li Auto has offered big discounts of roughly $5,000 across its existing lineup, in part due to 2024 face-lifts for the L9, L8 and L7 SUVs.

Li stock edged up 0.5% to 27.68 on Wednesday. Shares are down 26% in 2024, hitting an eight-month low of 26.43 on Jan. 22.

Nio

Nio insurance registrations totaled 9,900 in the first four weeks of January.

The EV maker delivered 18,012 vehicles in December, its third best month ever.

Like Li Auto, Nio is providing hefty discounts for its 2023 models ahead of 2024 face-lifts.

Nio stock sank 2.9% to 5.62 on Thursday. Intraday, shares hit 5.43, the lowest since June 2020. Nio is off 38% in 2024.

XPeng

XPeng insurance registrations are at just 6,800 through Jan. 28. That includes the X9 MPV, which is ramping up in its first month of deliveries.

XPeng is offering discounts, some very large,  on some of its other models.

XPeng delivered 20,115 vehicles in December, the third straight month of just over 20,000.

Shares fell 3.7% to 8.33 on Thursday, hitting a seven-month low intraday. XPEV stock has dived 43% in 2024.

BYD

BYD will release January sales on Thursday or Friday.

BYD insurance registrations totaled 181,650 through Jan. 28. That includes 168,500 BYD brand EVs. As for the auto giant's premium brands, Denza brand registrations are at 7,400, mostly the D9 MPV. Meanwhile, the relatively new Fangchengbao Ba0 5 had registered 4,257 while the superpremium Yangwang U8 is at 1,493.

In December, BYD sold a record 341,043, including 340,178 passenger vehicles.

China insurance registrations don't include BYD exports, which have been ramping up sharply.

The EV giant is continuing to offer discounts on many BYD brand models. Exports and rising sales of its premium brands help support profit margins.

BYD reported preliminary 2023 profit that's up 74.5%-86.5% vs. a year earlier, but implied Q4 earnings below views.

BYD stock fell 1.3% to 22.50 on Thursday. Shares have plunged nearly 19% in 2024, hitting a 10-month low.

Tesla Discounts

Tesla is offering an RMB 8,000 subsidy on Model Y inventory with HW 3.0, as its Shanghai plant begins to produce the Model Y with HW 4.0.

Meanwhile, customers who order the Model 3 or Y before Feb. 29 will pay just RMB 2,000 for all paid paint if they take delivery by March 31. Tesla offers both EVs with free black plant, with all other options costing RMB 8,000-12,000.

Finally, Tesla is offering discounted interest rates on purchases.

In January, Tesla cut prices modestly in China, followed by bigger reductions in Europe.

Tesla China Sales

Tesla doesn't break out China monthly sales, but industry data give a fairly clear picture.

Insurance registrations are at 35,200 so far in January.

In December, Tesla sold 94,139 China-made vehicles. That included 78,505 EVs sold in China and 18,334 sold overseas.

Traditionally, Tesla Shanghai has exported the bulk of its production in the first half of the quarter, then focused on domestic deliveries.

However, exports have been waning over the past several months. Much of that reflects waning demand in Europe. Tesla Berlin, which is running well below capacity, halted production for two weeks starting Jan. 29.

Tesla stock sank 2.2% to 187.29 on Wednesday. TSLA has tumbled nearly 25% in 2024, which much of that coming on weak Tesla earnings guidance.