Cars are comparable to "BBA" but are being chased by Internet Tech Giants. Where is the profit point of NIO that lacks "core"?

  "Investor Network" Wen Xia Jing 

  According to the latest operating data released by NIO (NYSE: NIO), the company delivered 20,060 vehicles from January to March this year, an increase of 423% year-on-year, and successfully achieved the goal of achieving 20,000 deliveries in Quarter 1 predicted by Li Bin, founder, chairperson and CEO of NIO. However, at the same time as the good news, NIO encountered the embarrassment of chip shortage: the NIO foundry Hefei Jianghuai Manufacturing Plant stopped production for 5 days, affecting the production of at least 500-1000 vehicles.

  Li Bin admitted that due to the impact of the supply chain (chips and batteries), NIO’s monthly production capacity of 7,500 vehicles is also under pressure.

  It is worth noting that NIO, one of China’s "three heroes of new energy vehicle manufacturing", is still in a state of heavy losses. NIO’s current situation is that, on the one hand, the production capacity is constrained by the shortage of chips, and the operating pressure is overwhelmed by the haze; on the other hand, the car manufacturing track is already crowded with Internet bosses who "show their muscles", and the competition drama can be imagined. 

  NIO, whose share price once fell to the "delisting red line" of $1, has just "come back to life" from the brink of danger, but the pressure it faces has not eased. Under the dilemma of "internal and external troubles", how can Li Bin and NIO break through the dilemma of "profitability difficulty"?

  Under the gamble, the gross profit margin turned positive, and the huge loss was still "leading" the new car-making forces 

  NIO is the company with the highest monthly delivery volume of "new car forces". In February this year, its delivery volume was 5578 vehicles, which was 2.4 times that of Li Auto, which is also a new car force, and 2.5 times that of XPeng Motors. It ranked among the top ten luxury car sales and once surpassed luxury car companies such as Land Rover and Porsche.

  However, before April 2020, NIO was on the verge of "dying" due to its high debt.

  As we all know, the delivery volume of the automobile industry is equal to the sales volume. It stands to reason that as the company with the largest monthly sales volume, the profit should be the largest. But this is not the case. Although NIO leads China’s new energy vehicle industry by its own sales and is dubbed "China Tesla", the continuous loss and the reality of "selling one at a loss" once caused NIO’s share price to fall to the "delisting red line" of $1.

  Just as Li Bin and his NIO were struggling, the Hefei Municipal Government and the 7 billion reached a gambling agreement with NIO.

  The agreement stipulates that NIO will invest in the acquisition and establishment of NIO China, requiring NIO China to generate revenue of 14.80 billion yuan in 2020, 120 billion yuan in 2024, and list 6-8 new models, and achieve total revenue of 420 billion yuan from 2020 to 2025.

  The money brought by this bet saved NIO in times of crisis, but this step-by-step implementation and batch arrival requirements and agreements also made Li Bin and his NIO dare not slack in the slightest.

  From the financial report released by NIO, there are many bright spots in NIO’s financial report in 2020. NIO’s total revenue in 2020 reached 16.258 billion (RMB, the same below), an increase of 107.8% year-on-year; among them, the gross profit margin rose from -7.4% in Quarter 1 to 17.2% in the fourth quarter, and the annual gross profit margin for the whole year was 11.5%. This is the first time that NIO has turned positive after being listed for three years.

  But even so, NIO’s full-year net loss in 2020 was as high as 5.304 billion, and the 11.295 billion of losses compared to 2019 was significantly narrowed, but it was still a reality that NIO was not profitable.

  Compared with Li Auto, which is the three heroes of China’s new car manufacturing forces, Li Auto’s annual revenue in 2020 was 9.461 billion, an increase of 3231.33% year-on-year, and the loss was only 152 million; NIO’s revenue was 1.3 times the ideal, but the loss was 35 times!

  Under the background of obtaining local government investment 7 billion, NIO has achieved a significant increase in revenue and a positive gross profit margin, which is a seemingly bright "answer sheet". In theory, NIO can increase profits as long as it increases delivery, thereby reducing losses and achieving profitability. However, judging from NIO’s current core shortage dilemma and further planning in 2021, the outlook for NIO to achieve profitability is not optimistic.

  Is the high cost pushing the "power exchange model" 42.50 billion cash flow enough to burn? 

  In early March, NIO announced that it currently has cash reserves 42.45 billion (including cash and cash equivalents, restricted currency cash, and short-term investments).

  Even if the funds are abundant, the amount of money Li Bin plans to "burn" is not small, judging from the new layout for 2021 announced by Li Bin at the earnings conference.

  Li Bin declared that in 2021, NIO plans to "improve the efficiency of the system", specifically, from research and development, sales, and the establishment of replacement stations and the improvement of the charging and replacement mode. Li Bin said that he plans to invest 5 billion research and development expenses in 2021, and build 20 new NIO centers and 120 NIO spaces; in addition, NIO still insists on the "replacement mode" different from Tesla’s charging mode, and plans to build more than 500 replacement stations and improve the charging mode in China in 2021, establishing 600 supercharging stations and 15,000 destination charging piles.

  Industry commentator Zhang Shule believes that NIO’s power exchange model has a bright future. "Although the power exchange model is different from Tesla’s charging model, it has new opportunities."

  Zhang Shule said that because the benefits of the power exchange model are obvious, its charging speed is fast, and it can form an efficient turnaround rate of car "charging", which is far more convenient than the use of charging piles for electric vehicles to occupy parking spaces. It is also more suitable for the promotion of the core areas where parking spaces are tight and electric vehicle charging demand is high. "At present, the state has also increased its support in the field of new energy vehicles, and electric vehicles have entered a rapid popularization stage in China, so the power exchange model has a strong application prospect." 

  Although the outlook for the power swap model is promising, NIO’s path to profitability remains uncertain.

  Zhang Xiang, a member of MIIT’s new industrialization capacity building "Changfeng" plan, a think tank for new energy and intelligent connected automobile industry experts, told Investor Network that NIO’s power exchange model is the core competitiveness of the future. Because it provides users with new experiences and choices.

  "But the current power exchange is a loss, and it will still be in a state of loss in the next few years." Zhang Xiang believes that the main reason why NIO cannot make a profit is that the construction investment of the replacement station is too large, and the lack of NIO’s inventory makes the utilization rate of the replacement station not high enough to subsidize the investment profitably. Zhang Xiang said, "NIO can only sell cars if it wants to make a profit. By raising the price of vehicles, it can obtain high profits to make up for the loss."

  NIO’s goals are lofty and its vision is perfect, but the reality is very skinny: on the one hand, it does not follow the popular route and adheres to the high-end market; on the other hand, in the face of a large number of losses, it also increases investment and insists on the development of the power replacement model.

  This could be said to be a dilemma for NIO. Although NIO’s losses narrowed in 2020, the main reason was the reduction in R & D investment and the construction of power station stations in 2020. If NIO wanted to make money, it had to "sell cars" in large quantities, but the cars it sold were only for the high-end market.

  Investor Network learned from NIO’s official website that the price of NIO’s models is more than 300,000 yuan. According to data from China Automotive Industry, NIO’s SUV ES8 surpassed BMW X5 for the first time in Shanghai in January 2021, becoming the first among medium and large SUV vehicles above 400,000. It can be said that as a car company, NIO can already rival traditional luxury car manufacturers such as "BBA (BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi) ".

  However, this "burning money" dilemma of "selling while losing money" makes it all the more difficult for NIO to turn a profit.

  Technology bosses get together to build cars NIO comparative advantage 

  The next trend in the internet is cars.

  According to the "New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-2035) " document, the sales of new energy vehicles will reach 20% of the total sales of new cars in 2025. According to the statistics of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers in early January, the cumulative sales of our country’s automobile industry in 2020 were 2527.2 million, and the sales of new energy vehicles were 1.367 million.

  If the total sales of new cars in 2025 is 25 million, it means that the sales of new energy vehicles will reach 5 million. From 1.30 million to 5 million This means that new energy vehicles will have great market demand, and the new trend of making money will naturally attract the pursuit of Internet bosses.

  Recently, Lei Jun led Xiaomi into the new energy vehicle industry, intending to open up a new world in the automotive industry. Previously, large Internet companies such as Baidu and Apple have announced their entry in a high-profile manner.

  Although NIO has seized the trend and become one of the three heroes of China’s new car manufacturing forces, it does not have a strong corporate background similar to Baidu and Xiaomi, and NIO is in the dilemma of lack of core and loss.

  Even so, Li Bin still seemed full of confidence. He said at the "WISE 2020 King of the New Economy" conference that NIO is not just a car company, but also a car-oriented community, a community that shares joy and grows together.

  Industry commentator Zhang Shule told that although NIO has performed well in the field of domestic electric vehicles before, the main reason is the lack of strong competitors. However, with Baidu, Xiaomi and other Internet technology companies and various traditional car companies entering the new energy vehicles and even higher-dimensional smart cars, NIO’s future competitiveness will be greatly challenged.

  Zhang Shule believes that there will be a bubble in Internet car building, that is, the current artificial intelligence technology and vehicle to everything vehicle part are still in the exploratory stage, and it is inevitable that there will be PPT car building (that is, conceptual car building). However, with the technical background of Internet Tech Giants, there is no big problem for companies like Baidu and Xiaomi, because Internet companies have scientific and technological concepts, such as Baidu is to install "brains" for electric vehicles, and Xiaomi is a hardware retail distributor, forming a combination model to create cost-effective electric vehicles.

  Perhaps for NIO, finding a way to make a profit, get out of the loss dilemma, reach a gambling agreement, and avoid being acquired are the most practical problems it needs to solve urgently. (Produced by Thinking Finance) ■