In this article, we introduce Li Auto (Chinese: 理想汽车)(NASDAQ: LI)(HKEX: 2015), a Chinese start-up company that adopts a family-oriented approach to targeting the mid- to high-end segment of China's automobile market.
This article is part of our China auto industry series, which includes:
Value-For-Money State-Owned: Wuling Motors
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Introduction And Corporate History
Li Auto was founded in 2015 as a start-up company that designs, develops, manufactures, and sells new energy vehicles targeting the higher end (and thus far, SUV) segment of China's automobile market. The company's mission is to "create a mobile home, create happiness" (Chinese: "创造移动的家，创造幸福的家") through providing premium mobility solutions in the format of family-oriented cars.
Li Auto released its first car (the Li ONE), an extended range electric vehicle (EREV), at the end of 2019. The company prides itself on being a large-scale pioneer of EREVs in China, and believes this to be an important differentiation factor that distinguishes Li Auto from other automobile brands.
Note: an extended range electric vehicle (EREV) is a vehicle that runs on electricity only but also has a generator that can recharge the battery through the use of petrol. In comparison, pure electric vehicles can only rely on electrical charging to recharge the battery, while hybrid cars can run on both electricity and on petrol via a traditional combustion engine. EREVs are useful in that the fuel-conversion generator can provide a greater (i.e. extended) driving range compared with a pure EV, hence making EREVs more versatile for longer range driving.
Li Auto went public on NASDAQ in 2020 (NASDAQ: LI) and subsequently on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2021 (HKEX: 2015).
As of December 2021, Li Auto has 206 retail stores (where potential and existing users can visit for vehicle check-ups, test-drives, and order placements), 84 vehicle delivery centres, and 48 vehicle service centres across major cities in China.
In June 2022, Li Auto unveiled its second car and flagship "smart SUV" product, the Li L9. Deliveries of the Li L9 are anticipated to commence by the end of August this year.
Li Auto currently only has one car, the Li ONE, while a second, flagship car was recently unveiled last month.
The Li ONE (Chinese: 理想 ONE) is a six-seater EREV SUV and Li Auto's first car model. Management describes the Li ONE's selling points as having a long range (relative to pure EVs) and high engine performance while maintaining efficient energy consumption and benefiting from flexible power supplies. Specifically, the Li ONE has a range of 890km to 1,080 km (from a purely electrically powered range of 188km), and the vehicle can continue running without any access to electrical charging infrastructure so long as it has petrol to power the fuel-conversion generator.
The Li ONE is equipped with advanced, in-house developed software and premium features which management claim are typically only available in cars that sell at a much higher price point.
In 2021, a remake of the original Li ONE was released.
Last month, Li Auto unveiled the brand's second car model, the Li L9. The vehicle is described as a six-seater, full-size SUV slightly longer than the Li ONE, with a driving range of 1,100km to 1,315km. The Li L9 is intended to be Li Auto's flagship model, equipped with the company's in-house developed autonomous driving system and top-notch safety features. Deliveries of the Li L9 are anticipated to commence by the end of August this year.
We now turn to a financial overview of Li Auto.
Revenue and Profit Margins
#1: Li Auto Generated Total Revenue of RMB27 Billion In 2021, While Operating Income And Net Income Remain Negative
Li Auto's total revenue grew from RMB284 million in 2019 to RMB27 billion in 2021. Operating income remains negative due to high research and development (R&D) and selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses, while net income is higher than operating income in 2020 and 2021 as a result of high interest income and investment income, as well as substantial positive changes in the fair value of warrants and derivative liabilities held.