On March 22, Li Xiang, CEO of Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto, took to social media to point out that the position of the vehicle’s lighting system in a circulated preview photo of the “W01” model is incorrect. He also provided a glimpse into Li Auto‘s future product plans, revealing that the company will launch six new pure electric vehicles, including a pure electric MPV model.
Li Auto has previously outlined its strategy of researching extended-range and pure electric models over the next decade. Li Xiang has stated that a large-size SUV is not efficient enough if it is purely powered by electricity, and therefore Li Auto plans to adopt different vehicle body shapes for different power systems.
The history of Li Auto‘s decision to develop pure electric vehicles can be traced back to July 2021 when the company announced that it was developing two pure electric vehicle platforms, namely Whale (W Platform) and Shark (S Platform). Li Auto plans to introduce two high-voltage pure electric vehicles to the market each year starting from 2023.
In 2021, there were several competing models in China, including the BYD Han and the XPeng P7. The Tesla Model 3 had also been listed on the Chinese market for over two years.
During the second quarter 2020 financial report conference call, Li Xiang addressed why Li Auto did not prioritize the development of electric vehicles. “The company will not launch pure electric models until the high-voltage fast charging technology matures,” he stated. In the July 2021 announcement, Li Auto revealed that it was investing in the development of high-voltage fast charging technology.
Li Auto has made significant progress with this plan in 2023. At the beginning of March, a Li Auto 800V charging station was spotted in a service area of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Expressway. Chehejia (Dongguan) Energy Service Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Li Auto, is responsible for the construction. According to Li Auto‘s plan, the company will spend an estimated ten billion yuan ($1.46 billion) to build 3,000 supercharging stations by 2025. “It’s much more cost-effective than building a factory,” commented Li Xiang on the cost of building a supercharging station on social media.
In 2022, Li Auto successfully delivered 133,200 vehicles, marking a 47.2% increase year-on-year. With the expected delivery of the L7 model this year, Li Auto aims to sell between 280,000 to 300,000 vehicles in 2023, and it is anticipated that the company will achieve its first annual profit.
As of the fourth quarter of 2022, Li Auto had a cash reserve of 58.45 billion yuan ($8.54 billion). For comparison, NIO and XPeng had cash reserves of 45.5 billion yuan ($6.65 billion) and 38.2 billion yuan ($5.58 billion), respectively. Li Auto‘s gross profit margin for the past year was 19.4%, compared with NIO‘s 10.4% and XPeng‘s 11.5%.
At the company’s spring media communication meeting this year, Li Xiang stated that in the past, extended-range models had helped the company to gain considerable income, which supported research efforts into pure electric models. He added that future investment into research and development, auto parts, and supply chains for pure electric vehicles would be greater.