By Kate Yuan
(JW Insights) Mar 24 -- Chinese EV makers NIO, Li Auto, Xpeng and Leapmotor lost a total of RMB30.819 billion ($4.5 billion) in 2022, surging by 65.67% year on year. None of the four companies have achieved profitability so far, according to a JW Insights report.
NIO suffered the biggest loss in 2022, hitting RMB14.559 billion ($2.12 billion), up 37.71%. Li Auto lost the least, reaching only RMB2.012 billion ($293 million). The company has achieved profitability in three consecutive Q4 from 2020. Despite the negative annual profit in 2022, it is still expected to be the first company among the four brands to turn losses into profits.
The decline in sales gross margins in 2022 is one of the factors for their loss. Li Auto’s gross margins reached 19.41% in 2022, a decrease of 1.92 percentage points from the previous year. Xpeng and NIO fell by 1 percentage point and 8.44 percentage points respectively, and that of Leapmotor continued to be negative, according to Wind, a major Chinese financial information platform.
These brands achieved revenue of RMB133.795 billion ($19.54 billion) in 2022, up 53.32% over the previous year. NIO took the lead with RMB49.269 billion ($7.19 billion), followed by Li Auto, Xpeng and Leapmotor with RMB45.287 billion ($6.61 billion), RMB26.855 billion ($3.92 billion) and RMB12.385 billion ($1.81 billion), respectively.
The total assets of the above companies continued to grow in 2022 along with the rising revenue. It is worth noting that their asset-liability ratios were also rising with worsening solvency.
The four companies all expanded their R&D teams last year. They had more than 70,900 employees at the end of 2022, up 60.25% over the previous year. Among them, the R&D personnel was 22,300, up 53.3%. NIO hired about 4,200 R&D staff in 2022, the most among the four, to over 9,000.
Their R&D investment also increased significantly in 2022, reaching RMB24.24 billion ($3.54 billion), climbing by 110.6%.
The continued price war has made these EV makers launch various sales promotions facing ever-increasing competition pressure. Industry insiders say certain car company lost RMB30,000 to RMB40,000 ($4,379-$5,839) per car after the latest price cut.
This round of price war is also considered to be a defense war for the above EV startups, who would rather sacrifice profits to maintain market share. The four companies have been affected in different ways judging from the sales in January and February.
Leapmotor and Xpeng have higher delivery pressure even with greater promotional discounts.
NIO, which focuses on the high-end market, has also been affected by the price war. Li Auto is the least affected as well as the company with the best car delivery performance this year.