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四年虧損50億美元,蔚來正在為生存而戰

彭博社 2019年10月10日

成本超支、銷售乏力以及大規模召回,造成蔚來股價跌幅超八成。

虧損50億美元,特斯拉大概用了15年,而有中國特斯拉之稱的蔚來汽車僅用了四年。

虧損仍在繼續。此前兩位分析師的平均預期顯示,總部設在上海的蔚來于9月下旬披露的第二季度業績將再次出現虧損,具體數字為26億元(3.69億美元),日均虧損在400萬美元左右。蔚來得到了科技巨頭騰訊的支持。加上第二季度的虧損,李斌2014年創立蔚來至今,該公司已經累計虧損約57億美元。

成本超支、銷售乏力以及大規模召回,蔚來的市值已經從大約一年前119億美元的歷史最高點大幅下挫74%。更廣泛的說,蔚來的狀況急轉直下說明了為什么人們擔心中國制造出了即將破裂的電動汽車泡沫。

彭博新能源的一名財經分析師Siyi Mi說:“今年和明年這些電動汽車初創企業將大規模洗牌。風投資本以前追捧它們,但這種情況已經一去不復返了。”

中國電動汽車銷量占全球半壁江山,今年7月,受政府補貼退坡影響,中國電動汽車銷量首次下滑。8月的電動汽車交貨量再次減少,這讓人們擔心整個中國汽車市場的最后支柱之一已經開始動搖。在過去15個月里,中國汽車市場有14個月處于下行態勢。

中國從2017年開始逐步削減新能源汽車補貼,包括純電動、燃料電池和插電式混合動力汽車,目的是幫助這個行業自立并避免泡沫。此舉影響了新能源汽車行業的增長,比亞迪等中國頂尖電動汽車廠商最近也因此警告稱利潤將下滑。

在蔚來,繼續融資的壓力不斷增大。該公司打算在9月底前裁員14%,將員工人數降至7500人。電池著火或冒煙等事故迫使蔚來召回了大約4800輛汽車,占其全部汽車銷量的20%以上。該公司第二季度的交貨量也低于第一季度。

政府決定為特斯拉提供資金支持后,蔚來放棄了在上海建廠的計劃,轉而將ES6和ES8的制造業務外包給了江淮汽車。

上海汽車咨詢公司Automobility的創始人及首席執行官比爾·魯索說,盡管騰訊和李斌在9月分別為蔚來融資1億美元,但汽車行業的資本密集性意味著“這筆錢支撐不了多久”。

李斌一直在淡化蔚來的問題。他在6月的一次采訪中表示蔚來股價暴跌“不是什么大事”,而且投資者需要明白造新車很燒錢。

但蔚來資金不足,目前該公司寄希望于從北京市政府支持的一家投資公司獲得高達100億元的資金。

蔚來眼前的另一個問題是特斯拉,后者計劃今年年底在中國投產,從而降低特斯拉汽車在中國的售價。

上海預致汽車咨詢有限公司的創始人及首席執行官張豫說:“蔚來沒有把自己放在合適的位置上,我不看好它的長期前景。”

譯者:Charlie

審校:夏林

It took Tesla Inc. about 15 years to rack up $5 billion in losses. The company known as China’s Tesla did it in four.

The bleeding continues. Shanghai-based NIO Inc. is poised to report at late September that it lost another 2.6 billion yuan ($369 million) — around $4 million a day — during the second quarter, according to the average of two analyst estimates. That would bring accumulated losses at the company, which is backed by technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., to about $5.7 billion since William Li founded the carmaker in 2014.

Cost overruns, weak sales, and major recalls have led NIO to plunge 74% since its market value hit a record $11.9 billion about a year ago. More broadly, the company’s reversal of fortune illustrates why concerns are mounting that China created an electric-vehicle bubble that may be about to burst.

“This year and the next, there’s going to be a lot of card-shuffling for these EV startups,” said Siyi Mi, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “Before, venture capital chased after them, but it’s not the case any more.”

Total EV sales in China, where half of the world’s electric cars are sold, fell for the first time in July after the government scaled back subsidies. Deliveries dropped again in August, raising doubts that one of the final pillars of strength in China’s broader auto market, which has fallen 14 out of the past 15 months, is wavering.

China has gradually scaled back subsidies for new-energy vehicles — all-electric, fuel-celled autos and plugin hybrids — since 2017 to help the industry stand on its own two feet and avoid a bubble. That’s undermined growth, prompting the likes of top Chinese electric-carmaker BYD Co. to warn recently that earnings will wane.

At NIO, pressure is building for it to raise more funds. The carmaker is seeking to reduce its workforce by 14% to 7,500 by the end of September, according to the company. Incidents involving batteries catching fire or spewing smoke forced NIO to recall about 4,800 vehicles -- more than 20% of all the cars it’s ever sold. Second-quarter deliveries dropped from the preceding three-month period.

The company also scrapped plans for a manufacturing plant in Shanghai after the government opted to provide financial support to Tesla. Instead, NIO farms out production of its ES6 and ES8 cars to Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Co.

And even though Tencent and Li each plowed $100 million into NIO this month, the capital-intensive nature of the automobile industry means that “this much money won’t last long,” said Bill Russo, founder and CEO at Automobility Ltd., a Shanghai-based auto advisory firm.

Li has played down his company’s challenges, saying in an interview in June that NIO’s stock rout was “no big deal” and that investors needed to understand that making new cars costs money.

But money is in short supply for the carmaker, which is now counting on receiving as much as 10 billion yuan in funding from an investment firm backed by the Beijing city government.

Another looming challenge for NIO is Tesla, which plans to start production in China later this year, allowing the U.S. company to cut prices of its vehicles sold in the country.

“NIO didn’t position itself in the right place,” said Yale Zhang, founder and CEO of AutoForesight. “I’m not optimistic about its future in the long run.”

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