With margins and cash burn looking worse following first-quarter earnings, XPeng management may be making its last stand with the G6, Deutsche Bank said.
XPeng (NYSE: XPEV) is expected to officially launch its new SUV, the G6, late next month, which analysts say will be crucial as the company continues to face weak sales and financial performance.
“With margins and cash burn looking materially worse following 1Q earnings, we believe management may be making its last stand with the G6,” Deutsche Bank analyst Edison Yu’s team said in a research note sent to investors yesterday.
The team’s previous view assumed XPeng could see stable natural margin improvement from the sharp drop in battery input prices, but those savings were mostly offset by incremental promotional activity and a poor mix.
” Therefore, the importance of the upcoming G6 has become even GREATER,” the team wrote.
XPeng reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings on May 24, with gross margins plunging to 1.7 percent. As a comparison, that figure was 12.2 percent and 8.7 percent in the same quarter last year and the fourth quarter of 2022, respectively.
The company reported a negative 2.5 percent vehicle margin in the first quarter, compared to 10.4 percent in the same period in 2022 and 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The decline was due to increased sales promotions and the expiration of the new energy vehicle (NEV) subsidy in China, XPeng said.
XPeng’s new SUV, the G6, will officially launch in June, with volume deliveries starting in July, and production capacity will climb quickly, its management said in a May 24 analyst call after announcing first-quarter earnings.
The G6 will be a hot seller in China’s new energy SUV market priced between 200,000 yuan ($28,200) and 300,000 yuan, and will enable XPeng’s total deliveries to grow well above the industry’s pace in the third quarter, the company said.
The G6 has been set aside about two months from the start of production to delivery, and XPeng expects the model to reach more than twice the sales of the P7i, its management said.
That means, according to Yu’s team, that XPeng management expects the G6 to sell 6,000-8,000 units a month.
The G6 needs to be successful for XPeng to be truly relevant to the market again, the team said.
XPeng will likely price the G6 significantly lower than the Model Y (RMB 263,900), hoping to attract consumers with a sleeker design and updated interior, the team said, adding that the Zeekr X is already taking this approach with a starting price of just RMB 190,000.
A leaked image on Chinese social media on May 22 showed XPeng seeing the first production vehicle of the G6 roll off the line.
XPeng expects second-quarter vehicle deliveries to be between 21,000 and 22,000, and given that it delivered 7,079 vehicles in April, the guidance means the company expects it will deliver a total of 13,921 to 14,921 vehicles in May and June.
Yu’s team also noted that XPeng’s cash burn trajectory was worse than expected.
“XPeng exited 1Q23 with <25bn RMB in net cash as A/P became a big drag on working capital. This was caused by poor sales performance and also suggests to us suppliers are becoming less accommodative,” the team wrote.
After months of lackluster G9 demand, XPeng management may be under pressure from suppliers to be more conservative with its outlook, the team said.
That said, XPeng’s operating expenses and capex discipline are still very much intact and should at least get the company through most of next year, Yu’s team said.
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