Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Li Auto on Tuesday launched the new 2021 Li ONE, a plug-in hybrid luxury SUV and currently the start-up’s only model, adding momentum to its efforts to stay competitive in the country’s crowded EV market.
According to Li Auto, the 2021 Li ONE is outfitted with an efficient “three-in-one” electric drive range extension system. In pure electric mode, the SUV offers a NEDC range of 188 kilometers. With the extended-range mode activated, this number grows to 1080 kilometers. The electric SUV can also function as a giant mobile power bank to charge camping equipment, allowing consumers to enjoy barbecues when they stop.
The new model is equipped with a self-developed advanced driver-assistance system based on a homegrown Zhengcheng 3 chip, which allows the vehicle to independently determine which lane of the highway it should be on. The SUV has achieved level two automation, which means the car can do the steering and acceleration independently, but the driver must still be ready to take the wheel.
An application store will be available on the smart SUV from the third quarter of this year. Users will be able to download a series of apps including Baidu Maps, NetEase Cloud Music and Tencent Video via the operating system. It also provides an in-vehicle voice-activated system, which allows consumers to interact with their Li ONE by issuing voice commands anywhere in the car.
The 2021 Li ONE comes in seven different colors – black, white, silver, grey, BabyBlue, DeepGreen and TechBlue – along with three interior trim options: white, black and brown.
The SUV will be priced at 338,000 yuan ($52,850), compared to 249,900 yuan ($39,047) for a Shanghai-made Tesla Model 3. Li Auto President Shen Yanan said on Wednesday that the firm would continue to use a direct-sales model strategy to sell the SUV at its 75 stores in more than 50 Chinese cities, starting May 26, Reuters reported.
The company expects monthly sales of the upgraded Li ONE to nearly double by September, after it sold 5,539 vehicles in April. Shen added that Li Auto is building a team to research selling overseas.
Li Auto’s US-listed stocks fell 3.94% to $19.99 per share on Tuesday.
Founded in 2015, the Beijing-headquartered start-up currently possesses a market capitalization of $18 billion. It faces stiff competition from a cohort of upstarts, including American firm Tesla and local rivals Nio and XPeng, all vying for a piece of the world’s largest EV market.
Last year, China delivered 1.17 million new-energy vehicles including pure-electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell cars. Research firm Canalys projects that in 2021, EV sales in China may reach 1.9 million units, marking a 51% surge year-on-year, and a 9% growth of EVs within the country’s overall automobile market.