Warren Buffett-backed Chinese car maker announces strong demand for its new luxury electric sedan

Business

Chinese battery and electric vehicle maker BYD shows off a model of its Han EV series at the 2020 Beijing auto show.

Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

BEIJING — Demand for luxury electric sedans is on the rise in China.

In just over two months, orders for the “Han” line of electric cars from BYD — a Chinese automaker backed by billionaire Warren Buffett — have topped 40,000, the company disclosed at the Beijing auto show this past weekend. 

The luxury sedan was announced on July 12 and will initially be sold in China. The vehicle maker said 4,000 vehicles were delivered in August.

The new Han model has a single-charge range of 605 kilometers (375.93 miles) with prices ranging from 229,800 yuan to 279,500 yuan, or roughly $33,000 to about $40,000. BYD is also selling a plug-in hybrid version for slightly less, at 219,800 yuan.

That price range is slightly lower than that of Tesla‘s China-made Model 3 sedan.

Elon Musk’s company does not break out China unit sales, although nearly one-fourth of its revenue in the second quarter came from the Asian country. Tesla said that in the three months ended June 30, it delivered more than 90,000 vehicles worldwide.

The automobile business and related products account for roughly half of BYD’s revenue. The company is also one of China’s major electric vehicle battery manufacturers and has a joint venture with Toyota. BYD’s Hong Kong-listed shares have soared more than 200% so far this year and hit a record high on Wednesday.

Chinese electric vehicle start-up Xpeng, which listed in New York last month, also said this past weekend that demand for its P7 luxury sedan is on the rise. Shares of Xpeng are up 25% since the public offering.

The vehicle retails for 229,900 yuan to 349,900 yuan after subsidies, according to Xpeng, which also claims the P7 has the longest range of any electric car sold in China at 706 kilometers. 

Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng stands next to the company’s P7 electric sedan as he addresses media at the 2020 Beijing auto show.

Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

“In the near term we’re focused on building the momentum in the P7,” Brian Gu, vice chairman and president of Xpeng, told CNBC in an interview on the sidelines of the Beijing Auto Show on Saturday. 

“We continue to have strong expectations that P7 will grow in (the) coming months into next year,” Gu said. “Next year we’re actually going to launch our third vehicle, which will be unveiled very soon. And that will also be our catalyst for growth.”

Gu added he expects Xpeng will reach profitability in a few years, but declined to give any details. 

Xpeng unveiled the P7 at the Shanghai auto show in April 2019 and began deliveries in June 2020.

Electric vehicle start-up Nio, which targets the premium market, also showed off a prototype for a sedan at last year’s Shanghai show before running into temporary financial difficulties for most of 2019. 

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