Tesla’s lead in China’s red-hot electric vehicle market is shrinking, says rival XPeng

XPeng President and Vice Chairman Brian Gu is quick to praise the Tesla brand and acknowledge the EV maker’s “commanding” market share in China.

But in the same breath, the executive at the upstart China-based EV rival said his company and peers are fast closing the competitive gap with Tesla.

“I think the Chinese players are catching up very quickly,” Gu said on Yahoo Finance Live. “Our product as well as some of the other products that are being introduced by the leading players are very good, and have comparable specs — as well as better features I think compared to Tesla.”

That point is not lost in the sales data from the main China EV players.

XPeng said this week deliveries in June surged 617% year-over-year to 6,565. So far this year, deliveries have skyrocketed 459% to 30,738 fueled by demand for XPeng’s P7 sedan and G3 SUV.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21:  A XPeng Motor P7 electric vehicle is on displayed during the 19th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, also known as Auto Shanghai 2021, at National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) on April 21, 2021 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Zhe Ji/Getty Images)

SHANGHAI, CHINA – APRIL 21: A XPeng Motor P7 electric vehicle is on displayed during the 19th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, also known as Auto Shanghai 2021, at National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) on April 21, 2021 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Zhe Ji/Getty Images)

June deliveries at Nio rose 116% from a year ago to 8,083. For the quarter ending June 30, Nio delivered 21,896 vehicles marking a growth rate from a year ago of 112%.

As for Li Auto, its June deliveries rose 321% from a year earlier to 7,713. Second quarter deliveries improved 166% year-over-year to 17,575.

Tesla reportedly sold 33,155 cars in China in June, up 122% year-over-year.

“In the last few months, our growth has outpaced the industry as well as Tesla in China. But I think it’s a long race because ultimately this market will not be dominated by one or two companies. It will probably be a number of players occupying probably large market share positions of 10% and above. That will likely be the trend, and we hope to be one of those top players,” Gu explained.

XPeng — which JPMorgan analysts estimate could grab 8% of China’s electric car market by 2025 —currently has two models in the Chinese electric car market. They have gained notoriety in an increasingly crowded market for their tech-forward infotainment systems and autonomous technology.

The company’s third model dubbed the G3i is expected to see deliveries begin in September, taking aim at smaller sedans such as the Toyota Camry.

Shares of China’s EV makers have cooled off this year despite their strong sales. XPeng shares are down 7% year-to-date, while Nio has shed 5%. Li Auto’s stock is down 11% on the year.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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