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U.S. Listed New Energy Vehicle Startup Li Auto Refreshes its Li ONE SUV, Expects Monthly Sales of 10,000 Vehicles by Sept

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【Summary】Chinese New Energy Vehicle (NEV) startup Li Auto unveiled the refreshed Li One SUV with improvements in the powertrain, driving assistance system, intelligent cockpit, and user experience. With its redesigned Li ONE, the automaker expects monthly deliveries to reach 10,000 units by September, according to Shen Yanan, President & Co-founder of Li Auto.

Eric Walz    May 28, 2021 12:55 PM PT
U.S. Listed New Energy Vehicle Startup Li Auto Refreshes its Li ONE SUV, Expects Monthly Sales of 10,000 Vehicles by Sept
The redesigned Li ONE extended-range EV.

Chinese New Energy Vehicle (NEV) startup Li Auto unveiled the refreshed Li ONE SUV with improvements in the powertrain, driving assistance system, intelligent cockpit, and user experience, Chinese news outlet Gasgoo reports. 

Deliveries of the newly redesigned Li ONE SUV start on June 1.

The Li ONE SUV is the company's first vehicle and is currently the only model offered. With its redesigned Li ONE, the automaker expects its monthly deliveries to reach 10,000 units by September, According to Shen Yanan, President & Co-founder of Li Auto.

The 2021 Li ONE starts at RMB 338,000 (US$53,074 dollars), for black, white, silver and grey standard paint options. Li Auto also offers three additional paint colors; Baby Blue, Tech Blue and Deep Green. These models are priced slightly higher at RMB 348,000 (US$54,645 dollars). 

Like vehicles from its rival Xpeng and Tesla, the Li ONE supports over-the-air (OTA) software updates. The company regularly collects feedback from owners, which it tries to address with each update. In the first ten months of last year, Li Auto released 9 separate OTA updates for the Li ONE, which the company says continuously improves the user experience.

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The interior refresh includes a redesigned steering wheel. (Photo: Li Auto)

Li Auto was founded in 2015 and was formerly known as CHJ Automotive. Production of the Li ONE began in Nov 2019 at the company's factory in Changzhou. 

Li Auto is considered one of China's top three rising NEV startups, along with XPeng and NIO Inc. All three companies are publicly traded in the U.S. and are hoping to take advantage of strong investor interest in electric vehicles and related companies, which pushed Tesla's stock to record highs last summer. 

In July 2020, Li Auto raised over $1.4 billion with its U.S. IPO. The company's shares are listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol "LI".

Shares of Li Auto rose 15% on Thursday to $23.69 after the company reported a fivefold increase in first-quarter revenue that beat analysts expectations. It was the third-biggest gain since the company went public last July.

Li Auto's domestic rival NIO debuted on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol "NIO" on Sept. 12, 2018. XPeng went public in Aug 2020 and its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol "XPEV".

In an interview with media in China, Li Xiang, founder, chairman and CEO of the company, said that Li Auto will invest more in R&D, thanks to the proceeds from the company's 2020 IPO. 

In 2021, the company's R&D investment will rise to RMB 3 billion (US$471 million), roughly 10% of the company's revenue, according to Chinese news outlet Gasgoo. The company's autonomous driving development team will be doubled to include 600 employees.

The 2021 Li ONE SUV has a full-stack self-developed advanced driving assistance system, standard with Navigation on ADAS (NOA) driver assist function. The company's next-generation SUV will be equipped with a NVIDIA DRIVE Orin processor and will come standard with lidar for autonomous driving.

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Li Auto's NOA navigation assistance system. (Photo: Li Auto)

The Li ONE is called an extended-range EV

The Li One SUV is not a purely electric SUV like Xpeng's G3 SUV and P7 sedan and NIO's ES8 and ES6. Li Auto calls its vehicle design an "EREV" (extended-range EV). It allows drivers to charge the battery pack using electricity or gas. 

Li Auto cites limited access to EV charging infrastructure in China as one reason for designing its SUV with a smaller internal combustion engine rather than building a fully-electric vehicle as other automakers are doing. 

The Li ONE is powered by its electric motors when cruising. However the energy source for the electric motors comes from both the battery pack and range extension system that includes a dedicated, 1.2 liter turbo-charged internal combustion gas engine and a 100 kW electric generator. A component called a speed reducer is used to connect the two power sources together. 

The electric powertrain of the Li ONE consists of a 140-kilowatt rear-drive electric motor powered by a 40.5 kWh battery. The small combustion engine is used to generate electricity to charge the vehicle's battery, but it also helps to extend overall range. 

The redesigned Li ONE offers a maximum NEDC range of 1,080 km (671 miles), which is 200 km more that the previous model, and a maximum WLTC range of 890 km (553 miles). The Li ONE has an NEDC range of up to 188 km (117 miles) on battery power alone. The SUV has a 11.9 gallon fuel tank for the gas engine. 

The Li ONE can also serve as a power source, which can be used to charge other appliances or other electric vehicles.   

Through the end of April, Li Auto has delivered a total of 51,575 Li ONE SUVs. In the first four months of 2021, average monthly deliveries topped 4,500 units, so the company is looking to more than double its vehicle sales by September.

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