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NIO October Sales Surprise, China EV Inc Invades the EU, Tesla & the 4680 - SAI Newsletter 43


China September sales have been posted for most OEMs (exception being Tesla) and the one number that stood out came from NIO surprisingly, with their sales coming in at a disappointing 3,667 units.

In a typical month, there are 20-22 days of production (5 days/week X 4 weeks) so this seems quite unusual that NIO was only able to eke out 10 days in September. NIO’s reasoning seems to be a bit suspect as well since it shouldn’t take 10 days to ‘restructure and upgrade’ a line for a new product. Something seems amiss here but it could all go away by next month if their November sales numbers are >10-11K which CEO Qin Lihong said is likely since they’ve been seeing orders well over 10K/month for the last couple.

Without further ado:


October Sales

Wuling Hongguang Mini




Li Auto






VW ID Series


WM Motor


LEAP Motor






Some graphical representations of sales since January courtesy of Lei Xing.

We are in the middle of this mad sprint to the 2021 finish line and demand is not leveling off. Most of the major players, with the exception of NIO, all seem to be growing along with the market. Tesla numbers will likely be out sometime later this week so I’ll post them in next week’s newsletter along with my thoughts. For those that are wondering, the Sino Auto Insights brand does travel well! Case in point, I was interviewed by Catalan TV Spain, a Spanish (Catalan) news organization about Great Wall Motors potential acquisition of an old Nissan plant outside of Barcelona. Fortunately, they did not ask me to speak Spanish for this interview! You can watch that here. I was also interviewed by CGTN UK about ‘China EV Inc’s’ move into the UK/EU. That can be seen here. As you can see, as more brands plant a flag in the region much more attention is starting to be paid by folks in the EU. Starting in 2022, the spotlight will shine VERY brightly for China EV, Inc as more brands begin to establish themselves and gain sales traction. Expect a bit of pushback from the local brands & the local govts since the vehicles sold will all have likely been imported from China. Let’s also just say that VW et al will NOT take kindly to sharing the market with these upstarts. Especially when the foreign brands (minus Tesla) are getting their butts kicked in China. A few other items that I found interesting this week:

- Ora (Great Wall Motors) enters the UK - BJ -> Zhangjiakou (the co-host winter Olympics city), the first 'self-driving' rail line opens up. For those not familiar with Beijing, during the winter there are ski resorts in Zhangjiakou that would normally take over 4 hours to drive to from BJ with few other alternatives to get there. This train makes it in <1 hr and it’ll be used quite a bit during the Beijing Winter Olympics which is scheduled for February 2022. A part of the line has been open since late 2019. I’ve both driven to and taken the train to Zhangjiakou and this makes hitting the slopes much more appealing and accessible for us Beijingers. - BIGFOOT sighting: Hengchi seems to be production testing an actual vehicle – the Hengchi 5 which is a midsized SUV/crossover. Whether China Evergrande can raise the capital to get it into mass production remains to be seen but they’re continuing to act like an ongoing concern. All the while, in the background their parent is still struggling to get out from under its tremendous debt burden. EVs & More will be hosted on Twitter Spaces as per the usual on Thursday – 9pm EST. We will post the topics later this week on Twitter so if you’re free please drop in or better yet, come with some questions or comments. IN THE NEWS - Ridehailing services in the US are still pretty expensive. And they stay that way as long as the job market is tight. The # of drivers has still not reached pre-pandemic levels while the demand for ridehailing has increased pretty substantially since the summer. Some of us can recall our ugrad economics class about the supply/demand curve - as demand increases (while supply remains flat or shrinks), prices have to increase in order to reach equilibrium again. The shortage of workers for open jobs in the US is pushing the possibility of inflation higher as well, which makes goods and services more expensive for consumers as wages do not grow enough to absorb the price increases. This is going to be a challenge for the US & Biden administration for some time so Uber & especially Lyft who is a US ONLY ridehailing company is still fiercely trying to diversify their businesses in order to not have ridehailing business pull the entire company down. It’s tough to compare an Uber & Lyft to a Didi for this reason. The economics, and market sizes that they play in are completely different. - For those that aren’t that familiar with some of the names, faces, and companies that should be pushing the US EV/AV/mobility sector forward in the coming years, you’re in luck! Business Insider wrote this article to summarize who you should be following in 2022 and beyond. The companies that they’ve highlighted: Rivian, Lucid, Aurora, Quantumscape, Lyft, Uber and Tesla to name just a few. This list is an obvious bunch and it doesn’t really enlighten you in any significant way. If you’ve read this newsletter for any amount of time, I am pretty certain I’ve written about all of them at least a few times. It also only focuses on the US side so it’s only telling part of the story. Perhaps for my year-end newsletter, I will pull out a more comprehensive list that’ll include more companies that are up/downstream that will be influencing the global EV/AV/mobility sectors. I need to start working on that list NOW and I know the perfect person to help me with it! - Stellantis is offering buyout packages to US employees in order to ‘right’ size the company without having to use the ‘L’ word to downsize. Just a few weeks back Deiss was rumored to be warning the VW board that if things didn’t turn around quickly with their ID Series sales, then they’d likely need to lay off about 30K employees. I’d posted about it when it happened and said back then that 30K was a lowball number. Because it is. Stellantis has >400K employees so my WAG is that they’d need to get to <250K global employees and then hire folks with the right skillset back. This is likely going to set off a domino effect as the other automakers will fear they’re falling behind their competitors. My brother works in Auburn Hills for Stellantis so I wonder how attractive the package will be and if he’ll take it. In the past, these types of packages were never that great. Also, most people wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t working so they end up not taking them. In this tight job market though, if the package is attractive enough, workers could take the package and then hop onto one of the EV startups that are growing like mad. Some whose skills are still necessary will have that option. Most others won’t. TRENDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - When the 911 will go electric. This is a great piece about how careful Porsche is being with planning for the iconic 911’s transformation to all-electric. According to the piece that should happen in 2028. It’s already been highlighted in Porsche’s long-term product plan and the engineers and leadership at Porsche ONLY want to make that powertrain changeover if all the elements line up properly. We are talking technology, design, engineering, all working together to allow for the evolution of an electric version that still deserves to be called a 911. This would make for a terrific documentary. Starting in 2018 when the ALL ELECTRIC 911 was ‘inked’ into the product plan and how they turn compromises into opportunities to reinforce the 911 heritage while taking bits and pieces of the latest technology to redefine what the 911 is in 2028 guise. For the petrolheads, click that link and have that 4 min read. - Ford Motor drops a bit of old skool combined with new school and it is SWEET. Meet the electric F-100 Eluminator Concept. Based on the 1978 F-100 pickup, let’s call it the restomod for the cleantech crowd. The electric motors on this F-100 are plucked straight off of the Mach E and the best part is that the M-9000-MACH-E e-crate motor is going on sale to the public as a performance engine for $3,900! Ford is obviously leaning into the aftermarket and home mechanic crowd and I think it’s brilliant! Now, EVs are driven by a whole lot more software so is it likely they’ll also sell HW/SW stacks in the future so homebuilders can Frankenstein their own e-hot rods together? I’d lean yes! - An original pair of Air Jordan’s from 1985 is going on the auction block. These shoes were specifically made for Mike for the 1985 season, down to the size 13 left 13.5 right shoe. But he NEVER actually wore them because he broke his foot that season. To me this is art. Art that’ll run you a min. $250K. JUST THE NUMBERS - $6B. That’s how much stock Elon Musk said he’s willing to sell in order to end world hunger. The estimate came from UN World Food Programme director and he’s since backtracked and said that the amount would NOT solve world hunger but it would help with geopolitical instability, mass migration, and 42M people on the brink of starvation. A bit of an asinine comment to make from the UN director since there is NO WAY that $6B would solve world hunger at all. But if they can make the accounting transparent maybe Elon still decides to donate anyway? It would be a great way to lift the veil of what and how these programs waste overhead in the name of charity. - 600. That’s the number of swapping stations in China NIO has set up since this week with 400 of them coming online in the last 4 months. Another notable statistic – 40% of NIO drivers have a swapping station within 3km of them. As NIO branches out to tier 2 & 3 cities, we will continue to monitor that number, my guess is that Tier 1 sales have not been saturated yet but once they do move more aggressively into the lower-tier cities, that % will go down. BTW, their goal is to have 90% of customers within a swapping station by 2025. That could be A LOT of swapping stations and A LOT of investment to get to that 90%. INTRODUCING Autoflight, one more eVTOL startup has successfully tested one of its pilots. The V1500M is completely powered by electricity and can carry up to 4 passengers. It’s raised >$100M in funding (which has since been aped by HT Aero’s $500M) is based in Shanghai and currently has about ~300 employees. From now on, if we are out in the burbs or countryside here, we should look up! Maybe we will see one of these things being tested. I know the China skies to be pretty heavily regulated so these entrepreneurs obviously know something that I don’t. —— This weekly newsletter is a collection of articles we feel best reflect the happenings of the week or important trends that have effects on the automotive and mobility sectors here and in the US, we also provide a point of view that we hope educates and sparks debate. The Sino Auto Insights


Sino Auto Insights is a Beijing, China-based market research and advisory firm that specializes in assisting companies analyze, strategize, and develop products and services that will shape the future of mobility and transportation. Members of our team have experience working in Detroit, Silicon Valley as well as here in China across multiple sectors and functions as entrepreneurs as well as working at larger companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, GM and FCA, and many others.

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