China Economy

5 high-end electric SUVs available in China right now

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Key Points
  • Chinese and foreign automakers alike are competing for the high-end SUV market in China.
  • Start-ups like Nio and WM Motor got their start in SUVs.
  • Tesla kicked off the new year to much fanfare in China by announcing its locally made Model Y mid-size SUV would soon begin deliveries.
A Tesla charging station in a hotel parking lot.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

BEIJING — When it comes to China's electric car market, the high-end SUV segment is one start-ups and foreign brands alike are competing heavily for.

In fact, electric high-end SUVs sold so well last year that models from Nio and Li Auto made the top 10 for the category — regardless of fuel type — according to the China Passenger Car Association. Both companies got their start in SUVs.

Tesla kicked off the new year to much fanfare in China, announcing it would soon begin deliveries for its locally made Model Y mid-size SUV.

Here are some of the cars that have caught Chinese buyers' attention:

Tesla Model Y

People look at a Tesla Model Y car at a Tesla showroom in Beijing on January 5, 2021.
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

Price: 339,900 yuan ($52,500)

Range: 594 km (369 miles)

Tesla's Model 3 was the top-selling consumer electric car in China last year, according to the country's passenger car association. Elon Musk's automaker announced on Jan. 1 the China-made Model Y would be available for delivery. Less than two weeks later, the company's website said new orders wouldn't be delivered until at least the second quarter of this year.

The advertised price of 339,900 yuan is about 30% cheaper than previously announced, according to Chinese media.

Nio ES6

A Nio ES6 vehicle is on display during the 18th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition on November 20, 2020 in Guangzhou China.
Visual China Group | Getty Images

Price: 358,000 yuan to 468,000 yuan ($55,300 to $72,300)

Range: 420 km to 610 km (260 miles to 379 miles)

Nio said it delivered 2,493 ES6 units of the five-seat SUVs in December, holding steady from the 2,537 units delivered a year earlier. That's despite the launch of another five-seater called the EC6 during that time.

Customers who order the ES6 today will need to wait about eight weeks to receive their car, according to Nio's website.

Li One

A Li Xiang One hybrid SUV is on display during the 18th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition on November 23, 2020 in Guangzhou, China.
Li Zhihao | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Price: 328,000 yuan ($50,700)

Range: 180 km (up to 800 km with fuel-driven charging system) (111 miles, or up to 497 miles)

The Li One SUV features a 45-liter fuel tank that can be used to charge the vehicle's battery, extending the range the car can travel before reaching a charging station. Vehicles come in six and seven-seater versions.

The car is Nasdaq-listed Li Auto's first and only model so far. The company said it delivered more than 30,000 units since launching Li One on Dec. 4, 2019.

WM EX5

WM Motor's EX5 electric vehicle on display at the Consumer Electronics Show Asia in Shanghai in June 2019.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Price: 149,800 yuan to 198,800 yuan (after subsidies, for EX5-Z model) ($23,100 to $30,700)

Range: 400 km to 520 km (248 miles 323 miles)

Shanghai-based WM Motor began deliveries of the original version of the EX5 in September 2018 and claims to have handed at least 40,000 units over to customers since.

The privately held company, also known as Weltmeister, was founded in 2015 by former Volvo and Geely executive Freeman Shen. WM Motor announced a 10 billion yuan funding round in September from investors such as Shanghai state-owned automaker SAIC Motor.

Audi Q2 L e-tron

Alexander Seitz, member of Audi's board of management for finance, China and legal affairs, speaks about the Q2 L e-tron, which began production in China in 2020.

Price: 226,800 yuan to 237,300 yuan (after subsidies) ($35,000 to $36,700)

Range: 265 km (164 miles)

Audi revealed the Q2 L e-tron at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2019 and said it would only be sold in China. The Volkswagen-owned German automaker is producing the vehicle with Chinese state-owned auto group FAW. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in October to produce more electric cars based on a platform Audi developed with Porsche.

Audi plans to launch six more electric vehicles in China by the end of 2021.

The company said it delivered a record 727,358 cars to China in 2020, up 5.4% from a year ago and bucking the company's 8.3% decline in sales globally. "Rapid economic recovery and high demand for individual mobility led to new record figures," Audi said in a release Tuesday.