Chinese smart electric vehicle start-up Xpeng Motors on Monday reported record quarterly revenues amid soaring demand for its cars, beating market expectations. But its delivery volume in this year’s first three months could fall below analysts’ estimates as Covid-19 outbreaks in major cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen dampen buyers’ enthusiasm and disrupt sales in March. Shanghai is currently in the midst of a lockdown, while the southern tech hub of Shenzhen exited one last week. Guangzhou-based Xpeng posted a 200 per cent year-on-year jump in revenues to 8.56 billion (US$1.34 billion) for the quarter ended December 31, exceeding analysts’ median estimate of 8.12 billion yuan in a Bloomberg survey. “Xpeng, banking on new model launches and technological upgrades, is establishing itself as a powerful carmaker in China,” said Chen Jinzhu, CEO of Shanghai Mingliang Auto Service. “But the recent Covid-19 pandemic could dent its sales in the first quarter.” Backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, which also owns this newspaper, and smartphone maker Xiaomi, Xpeng’s net loss in the fourth quarter widened 63.5 per cent to 1.29 billion yuan. The Hong Kong and New York listed carmaker has yet to make a profit since its establishment in 2014. Along with Shanghai-based NIO and Beijing-headquartered Li Auto, they are viewed as rivals to global EV leader Tesla on the mainland, the world’s largest car market. Shanghai’s lockdown sparks panic buying for food and essentials A short supply of automotive chips and batteries this year has turned out to be stumbling block to the rise of China’s smart EV companies whose vehicles feature autonomous driving, sophisticated in-car entertainment and high-performance batteries. Last week, William Li, co-founder and CEO of NIO, told an earnings briefing that 1,000 different chips were used in each NIO car and it faced a shortage of 100 such chips. The China Passenger Car Association predicted EV sales could surge by 84 per cent to 5.5 million units in 2022, but David Zhang, a researcher at the North China University of Technology, said key components such as batteries and chips might only be enough for 4.4 million. Xpeng has forecast deliveries of 33,500 to 34,000 vehicles in the year’s first quarter, below market estimates of 38,300 units. Still, its first-quarter delivery is set to beat 25,000 to 26,000 units estimated at NIO and 30,000 to 32,000 vehicles at Li Auto. The trio reported combined sales of 280,075 EVs in China last year, but it was still 13 per cent shy of Tesla, whose Shanghai-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles were well received by young mainland drivers. Tesla delivered 321,000 cars in China in 2021, 117 per cent more than the previous year.