Chinese electric vehicle (EV) start-up Nio Inc (蔚來) reported a narrower first-quarter loss, while warning that a global chip shortage would keep a lid on deliveries.
The Shanghai-based company posted a net loss of 451 million yuan (US$68.8 million) in the three months ended March 31, compared with 1.69 billion yuan a year earlier, it said in a statement.
It also marked an improvement on the 1.39 billion yuan net loss it posted in the fourth quarter of last year.
Revenue rose to 7.98 billion yuan, beating estimates of 7.16 billion yuan.
Nio delivered 20,060 vehicles in the quarter, a 423 percent increase from a year earlier, when China was in lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It forecast deliveries of 21,000 to 22,000 vehicles this quarter.
Like the rest of the automotive industry, Nio has been hit by the global chip shortage.
The company suspended vehicle production for five days at the end of March.
“The overall demand for our products continues to be quite strong, but the supply chain is still facing significant challenges due to the semiconductor shortage,” Nio chief executive officer William Li (李斌) said in the statement.
A slew of automakers, including Honda Motor Co, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co, this week flagged production cuts and lost revenue from the debilitating chip drought.
“The global chip shortage that has disrupted automakers’ operations in China since late 2020 will get worse before it gets better,” S&P Global Ratings said in a report on Thursday, adding that it “may slow, but not derail the recovery of the Chinese auto sector.”
With its more expensive vehicles and clubby showrooms, Nio is seen as the closest competitor to Tesla in China. Its SUV range starts from 358,000 yuan, more expensive than Tesla’s most popular basic Model 3 sedans, which start from 249,900 yuan.
Nio unveiled its first all-electric sedan, the ET7, in January, a vehicle that pits the firm more squarely against Elon Musk’s electric vehicle pioneer.
Another point of difference between Nio and Tesla is that Nio has embraced the “battery-as-a-service” model, whereby consumers are able to buy the car shell while leasing the battery and upgrading it as technology changes and improves.
This makes the upfront cost of buying an electric vehicle cheaper.
Still, Nio has a way to go to catch Tesla.
In March, 34,635 China-built Teslas were registered in the country, data from the China Automotive Information Net showed.
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