Li Auto Takes First Place in New Vehicle Insurance Registrations for China's EV Startups in the Month of June

Li Auto Takes First Place in New Vehicle Insurance Registrations for China's EV Startups in the Month of June

Author: Eric Walz   

New Energy Vehicle (NEV) startup Li Auto topped the list in new vehicle registrations for China's EV startups for the month of June, according to the China Automotive Technology & Research Center. It's the first time ever that Li Auto took the top spot for NEV startups in monthly insurance volume, Chinese new outlet Gasgoo reported.

Li Auto managed to edge out rivals NIO Inc. and XPeng Inc. Li Auto recorded 7,827 units of monthly insurance registrations in June for its Li One SUV, the company's first and only offering. NIO was the runner-up startup in June with an insurance volume of 7,777 units. XPeng finished third respectively with 6,639 G3 SUVs and P7s sedans registered in June.

For comparison, Tesla Model Y new insurance registrations were 11,513 vehicles for June, according to the China Automotive Technology & Research Center. Li Auto is aiming to close this gap with the Tesla Model Y even further with its refreshed Li ONE SUV.

The automaker expects its monthly deliveries of the Li One to reach 10,000 units by September, according to Li Auto President & Co-founder Shen Yanan. Mr Shen made the remarks when the company unveiled its refreshed Li One SUV in May. 

Deliveries of the newly redesigned Li One SUV began on June 1.

Unlike NIO and XPeng, Li Auto's One SUV is not fully electric. The vehicle is equipped with a gas-powered engine to help charge its battery to power the electric motors. Li Auto calls its vehicle design an "EREV" (extended-range EV). It allows drivers to charge the battery pack using electricity or gas. 

However the Li One SUV is still classified as a NEV in China, which includes fully-electric or hybrid models.

The Li ONE is powered solely by its electric motors when cruising. However, the energy source for the electric motors comes from both the battery pack and range extension system that includes a dedicated, 1.2 liter turbo-charged internal combustion engine and a 100 kW electric generator. A component called a speed reducer is used to connect the two power sources together. 

The SUV is equipped with a 11.9 gallon fuel tank for the gas engine. 

The electric powertrain of the Li ONE consists of a 140-kilowatt rear-drive electric motor powered by a 40.5 kWh battery. The small combustion engine is used to generate electricity to charge the vehicle's battery, but it also helps to extend range.

The redesigned Li ONE offers a maximum NEDC range of 1,080 km (671 miles), which is 200 km more that the previous model, and a maximum WLTC range of 890 km (553 miles). The Li ONE has an NEDC range of up to 188 km (117 miles) on battery power alone. 

Li Auto cites limited access to EV charging infrastructure in China as one reason for designing its SUV with a smaller internal combustion engine rather than building fully-electric vehicles like its rivals XPeng and NIO are.

Li Auto, NIO and XPeng are three of the leading NEV startups in China. The three companies are all competing with Tesla in their home market. Li Auto was founded in 2015 and was formerly known as CHJ Automotive. 

All three automakers are also publicly listed in the U.S. and are hoping to take advantage of recent investor interest in EV stocks that has made rival Tesla the world's most valuable automaker last year. 

Li Auto raised over $1.4 billion in its U.S. IPO in July 2020. The company's shares are listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol "LI". Li Auto's stock price has more than doubled since May 10 and was trading 3% higher at $32.76 on Monday. 

The 2021 Li ONE SUV includes a full-stack self-developed advanced driving assistance system, standard with "Navigation on ADAS" (NOA) driver assist function. The company's next-generation Li One will be equipped with a NVIDIA DRIVE Orin processor and standard lidar for autonomous driving, the company said.

Like Tesla's vehicles, the Li One SUV supports over-the-air (OTA) software updates. The automaker allows its customers to submit feedback and suggest improvements using its Li Auto smartphone app. 

Production of the Li One SUV began in Nov 2019 at the company's factory in Changzhou. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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