Source: Geek Park Author: Zhou Yongliang
May 24 must be a special day. Wei Xiaoli's three companies went on a group tour: NIO released the new ES6, Xiaopeng Motor released its financial report for the first quarter, and Li Xiang shouted at dealers on Weibo, “L7 reached 20,000 units/month in October this year.”
However, the capital market's reaction to these news was mixed. NIO and Xiaopeng's US stock prices fell 9.49% and 5.05% respectively on the same day, while Ideal Auto's stock price rose slightly, up 0.28%.
Although Xiaopeng Motor's first-quarter sales performance was in line with market expectations, the sharp drop in NIO's stock price was somewhat surprising. Once known as the “leader” of new-power cars, NIO is gradually falling behind. According to the data, NIO's total delivery volume in 2022 was 122,500 vehicles, an increase of 34% over the previous year, far below the industry average growth rate (93.4%).
Entering 2023, NIO's performance is still weak. In April, NIO delivered only 6,658 new vehicles, up 31.2% year on year, but down 36% month on month. This is NIO's worst performance in nearly a year. Although NIO delivered a total of 37,700 new vehicles in the first four months of this year, an increase of 22.2% over the previous year, its growth rate was lower than the market average of 82.7%.
Faced with the current sluggish performance, the newly launched ES6 is considered NIO's “hope” for the future.NIO's new ES6 offers two versions of a 75-degree battery and a 100-degree battery, at a price of 36.80-426,000 yuan. On the scene, NIO used an untraditional model to post in an interactive way between Li Bin and the four guests, but judging from the results, the information dissemination efficiency in the form of dialogue was not very efficient.
01. Super “bucket cart”
NIO's older ES6 is its second product, debuted on NIO Day in December 2018, and delivery began in June 2019. The ES6 was once NIO's “merit” model. It delivered nearly 130,000 vehicles in four years, transforming NIO from facing a desperate situation to continuing steady development.
After nearly 5 years, ES6 has finally ushered in a new product. The specific parameters of the new ES6 have been announced at the Shanghai Auto Show. Most of the key configurations and upgrade points are the same as other NT2.0 models (such as ET7, ES7, ET5).As a model positioned lower than the NIO ES7, the ES6 was partially configured to surpass the ES7, which caused dissatisfaction among some NIO owners.They think they have been “backstabbed” by NIO and have filed claims for “a lifetime vehicle warranty, free off-site charging 12 times a year, seat upgrades, etc.”
Overall, the new ES6 has been improved and adjusted in terms of performance and exterior design, making it NIO's most balanced model.
In terms of exterior design, the new ES6 has abandoned the design language of the original generation and made some adjustments in many places. For example, ADB multi-beam headlights, NT2 platform intelligent driving-related hardware, rear pass-through light sets, hidden rear wipers, rear-facing charging ports, etc. are used. At the same time, it also supports optional orange calipers, roof racks, electric tow hooks, 20/21 inch wheels of various styles, etc.
In terms of dimensions, the new ES6 has undergone minor adjustments, with a body length of 4854 mm, a width of 1995 mm, a height of 1703 mm, and a wheelbase of 2915 mm. Compared to the first ES6, the second generation ES6 is 30 mm wider, 53 mm lower, the wheelbase has been extended by 15 mm, and the body length has increased by 4 mm. This also makes the new model longer, wider, and taller than the old model, and has a larger slidback angle.
In terms of power, NIO has always adhered to the dual motor strategy, and the new ES6 is no exception. The new ES6 comes standard with a dual-motor four-wheel drive system. It is equipped with a front 150 kilowatt induction motor and a rear 210 kilowatt permanent magnet motor. The total power reaches 360 kilowatts, the torque reaches 700 Nm, and it only takes 4.5 seconds to accelerate 100 kilometers. In addition, the new ES6 also comes standard with a self-developed high-performance four-piston custom clamp with a braking distance of only 34.5 meters per hundred kilometers.
Although some people suggested that Li Bin abandon the dual-motor strategy,However, Li Bin emphasized many times that NIO will not produce single-motor models.At the press conference, he once again stated that in high-end smart electric vehicles, the meaning of dual motors is not only to accelerate faster, but also to be safer. The dual motors make it easy to implement an intelligent four-wheel drive system, which can provide more driving modes to cope with different road conditions. The power system is the foundation of vehicle safety. If one motor fails, the other can be seamlessly taken over. This is the greatest advantage brought by high-end smart electric vehicles, and it is difficult for traditional fuel vehicles to achieve a dual engine design.
In terms of comfort configurations, the new ES6 has been iterated and received feedback from many consumers. For example, the charging port position has been moved from the front to the rear of the car. This is NIO's first SUV with the charging port at the rear. Even the new ES8 is still at the front of the car; the front seats have their own headrests and support front, rear, top and bottom adjustments; the trunk cover now opens in two sections, which is more convenient.
In terms of intelligent configuration, the new ES6 is equipped with the Aquila Ultra Sensing System and the ADAM NIO Supercomputing Platform. The Aquila supersensing system uses a total of 33 exterior sensing elements, including 1 1550nm lidar, 7 8 megapixel cameras, 4 3 million surround view cameras, 5 millimeter wave radars, 12 ultrasonic radars, and 2 high-precision positioning units. All supercomputing platforms are equipped with 4 NVIDIA Drive Orin X chips as standard, with 48 CPU cores, 256 matrix computing units, and a total computing power of up to 1016 TOPS.
The top hardware configuration also provided more possibilities for NIO's subsequent intelligent driving.
According to information, on July 1, the official version of NOP+ based on BEV will provide services; high-speed pilot power exchange will open the first batch of 40 high-speed power exchange stations in the third quarter of this year, and gradually cover more high-speed power exchange stations to achieve uninterrupted point-to-point pilot assistance in high-speed scenarios; urban NAD will also launch a small-scale experience in Shanghai in the near future.
02. Pricing is “out of place”
At the same time, Li Bin also announced an important message at the press conference. A large 150-degree battery pack will be launched in July of this year.
Earlier, NIO officially launched a 150kWh battery pack on 2020 NIO Day, using solid-state batteries, which was originally scheduled to begin delivery in the fourth quarter of 2022. Li Bin said that the NIO ES8 with this battery pack will have a range of 730 kilometers, with a maximum range of 910 kilometers. But in the end, this product that received attention was still a “ticket skipper.”
Of course, what people are most concerned about is the price issue. Against the backdrop of a general decline in the price of new energy vehicles, the price of NIO's new ES6 has attracted much attention.
According to information, the starting price of the new ES6 model with 75 kWh battery pack is 368,000 yuan, the starting price of the model with the 100 kWh battery pack is 426,000 yuan, and the starting price of the model using the BaaS battery leasing scheme is 298,000 yuan. Users can deliver it starting May 25.
This price was anticipated by many people and did not exceed expectations. However, when friends and merchants generally come standard with leather seats, heating, ventilation, massage, etc., the ES6 mostly needs to be selected, which makes some users feel that it is a bit expensive. Some netizens said that according to their personal preferences, they simply chose a few configurations: Nappa leather, full access package, Queen's co-driver, NOMI mate, and Qihui orange caliper. Under the condition of a 75-degree standard battery pack, the price had already reached 415,900.If you choose a 100-degree battery pack, the price jumps directly to 470,000.
Other netizens complained, “Users don't give what they want (ventilation, heated massage, Nappa leather seat), hard plugs that they can't use (dual motors, 4 orins, etc.). The most obvious improvement in the experience is not given. What you can't see is stuck.”
In fact, there was some fluctuation in NIO's internal pricing for the new ES6. Normally, car companies set two internal prices in the early stages. One is to consider sales volume and market, and the other is to consider image and brand.
A few days before the press conference, NIO collected opinions on the pricing of the new ES6. There was only one question, “What is your opinion on the price of the new ES6?” Five options were also presented: more than 398,000 yuan, 388,000 yuan, 378,000 yuan, 368,000 yuan, and below 368,000 yuan.
After the questionnaire was published, it quickly became widely disseminated on social media. Although the responses were mixed, they were all somewhat surprised and concerned. Some people think that the ES7 user face-to-face incident may have influenced NIO's internal judgment, or even its understanding of “user value,” making it seem somewhat lacking in self-confidence.
Currently, the new ES6 is facing competition from many competitors, such as Ideal L7, Zhimi LS7, Avita 11, Extreme 001, Xiaopeng G9, etc. However, the first impact of the new ES6 is likely to be the “family brothers” ES7 and ET5. The ES7 and the new ES6 overlap in many product points, but as a higher-level model, the ES7's additional configurations (such as air suspension, stronger power, etc.) are not enough to convince users to spend 100,000 yuan more.
The ET5 is only 40,000 yuan cheaper than the new ES6 in terms of price, but there is a lack of configuration such as seats, HUD, interior decoration, and interior space. This may cause ET5 users to switch to the new ES6, thereby affecting ET5 sales.
03. Greater challenges
In the long run, NIO Auto's competitive goal is to achieve annual sales of 2 million vehicles. This was proposed by NIO founder Li Bin in an interview with the media in April of this year. He said that this is NIO's line of life and death, and it is also the goal of long-term competition.
In the short term, NIO aims to sell 250,000 vehicles by 2023 and achieve break-even in the fourth quarter. However, up to now, the total number of new vehicles delivered by NIO is only 37,700, achieving 15% of the target.
To achieve the annual target, NIO plans to increase sales by launching new models. According to the plan, 5 new models will be launched in the first half of this year, and 8 models will be launched simultaneously by June, including new replacement models of ES8, ES6 and EC6.
However, it also posed two challenges for NIO.First, it is necessary to deal with the launch of 5 models in the short term; secondly, how to fully introduce each product and show the differences between models is another challenge.
Also, the pace of development of the NEV market is not very favorable to pure electric vehicle companies such as NIO. Although the penetration rate of new energy vehicles is rapidly increasing, it has already exceeded 25% by 2022, and is currently around 30%. However, the growth rate of plug-in hybrids is much higher than that of pure electric models. In other words, the core driving logic for the growth of the new energy market in 2023 is to “mix things up”.
Judging from the data, in the first four months of this year, pure electricity sales were 1,172 million units, an increase of 18.1% over the previous year; mixed sales were 550,000 units, an increase of 98.57% over the previous year. At the same time, the share of intermixed products quickly rose to 32%, up 7 percentage points from 2022.
As a result, major mainstream brands have begun to launch their own plug-in products. Whether it is BYD, Ideal, Changan, Geely, Great Wall, or even some joint venture brands have begun to promote plug-in hybrid products (such as Honda). From the supply side, mixed products will quickly flourish.
Looking at the market side, the plug-in hybrid has already adopted the same price strategy for oil and electricity, breaking the price war and exploiting the fuel vehicle market. In contrast, it is difficult for pure electricity to achieve the same price as oil and electricity in the current situation.
In the early days, NIO stood out in the early domestic tram market through sci-fi design, the Queen's co-driver, cute NOMI, intelligence, power exchange, etc., which attracted many early adopters to pay high prices. But now, the barrel theory is working again, that is, how much water a wooden barrel holds depends not on the longest plate, but on the shortest plate.
Therefore, in addition to releasing new cars, NIO needs to make comprehensive efforts in production capacity, supply chain management, organizational efficiency, etc., to improve its competitiveness and market share.