Chinese startup Li Auto is seeking to raise up to $950 million in a bet that U.S. investors will support its vision for an electric vehicle future in China, the world’s largest auto market.
The five-year-old automaker, formerly known as CHJ Automotive, said it will 95 million American depositary shares at an indicative range of $8 to $10 per share in an initial public offering.
The listing would be the largest by a Chinese company this year, surpassing the $510 million IPO of cloud service provider Kingsoft Cloud. Li Auto would be the second Chinese electric vehicle maker to list in the U.S after Nio.
“We believe that our EREV [extended-range electric vehicle] technology will help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in China and contribute to China’s national initiatives to build a low-carbon-emission society,” the company said in an amended prospectus.
Li Auto started volume production of its first model, the Li ONE SUV, in November 2019 and had delivered more than vehicles as of June 30. It is focusing on the SUV segment within a price range of RMB150,000 ($21,000) to RMB500,000 (US$70,000).
Unlike rival Tesla and Nio’s pure battery electric vehicles, the Li ONE allows drivers to charge their cars with electricity or gasoline. It can operate “even when customers have no access to charging infrastructure, thereby completely eliminating range anxiety,” the prospectus said.
Li Auto generated sales of RMB1.9 billion (US$275.0 million) for the second quarter, up 128.6% from the year ago, while its gross margin improved to 13.3% from 8.0% in the previous quarter.
“However, Li Auto is bleeding cash along with its rivals, with around RMB 4 billion in total net losses over the past two and half years,” TechNode said.
Li Auto, whoch was founded in 2015, is backed by Chinese food delivery giant Meituan Dianping. Private equity firm Hillhouse Capital plans to invest $300 million in the IPO.
The float is “the latest gauge of U.S. investor demand for Chinese companies going public,” Reuters said, adding that “prestige and listed comparables continue to propel them toward a U.S. listing.”