Li Auto Founder: Extended Range Best for SUVs in Next Five Years

Li Xiang, the founder and chairman of Chinese EV maker Li Auto, talked about the firm’s medium and long-term product planning during a telephone conference after the release of its Q2 financial report, saying that in the next five years, the extended-range scheme is still the best solution for SUV models, and the company will continuously improve the efficiency of the solution.

Taking Li Auto competitor BYD’s Han sedan and Tang SUV as examples, Li Xiang said that the prices of the two models are similar, but the sales volume of Han’s pure EV models is higher than that of the super hybrid models, while the super hybrid models in the Tang series achieved better sales. “Consumers spend 200,000 yuan ($29,475) or 300,000 yuan ($44,211) to buy an SUV based on their outdoor entertainment needs,” said the executive.

Extended-range electric vehicles adapt a fuel engine on the basis of pure electric vehicles. When the battery power is insufficient, the engine is used to generate electricity and charge the battery. It is worth noting that the engine of extended-range electric vehicles does not participate in direct drive, and there are no fuel-driven mechanical devices such as a clutch or gearbox. The Li ONE and the L9 to be delivered are both extended-range models.

At the conference, Li also responded to a question suggesting that the “extended-range scheme is backward.” He said that the energy consumption of the L9, as tested by mainstream media, shows that under the condition of power loss, the fuel consumption of the L9 is 60% of that of fuel vehicle with a similar price range. The extended-range scheme is meant to add range extenders to electric vehicles, rather than to enable fuel vehicles to use batteries, which needs to be distinguished.

In order to prove the advantages of the extended-range scheme, Li Xiang took another car company, Changan Automobile, as a comparison. “Traditional automobile enterprises like Changan are excellent, and Deep Blue, a new energy automobile brand owned by Changan, also chose to use extended-range scheme. Changan has plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology, but they firmly choose extended-range solution, because the latter is to support electric car, and PHEV is a fuel vehicle.”

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However, when asked about the competitive advantages of the L9 compared with extended-range models such as the AITO M5 launched by Huawei and Seres, Li Auto did not give a detailed response, but said that the L9 is extremely competitive among models with a similar price range, and it will pay more attention to how to meet customer needs.

As for the pure EV that the market is interested in, Li Xiang said that the pure EVs of Li Auto have a “very unique form” and will still focus on family members. Li Auto already disclosed that its first pure electric model will be unveiled in 2023.