Tesla’s Chinese Rivals Are Riding an IPO Boom in the US Despite Political Tensions

A NIO vehicle sits outside of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

A NIO vehicle sits outside of the New York Stock Exchange on its first day of trading. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ever since Tesla sold its first Model S sedan there in 2013, China has been the electric carmaker’s fastest-growing overseas market and helped the company get through multiple external crises, including the coronavirus pandemic. But as Tesla continues to claim the lion’s share of China’s booming EV market, it’s also facing a crop of homegrown competitors growing just as fast—at least by the measure of market value.

Tesla’s most notable Chinese rival, Nio, for example, has seen an influx of investor interest lately, which pushed the unprofitable startup’s share price from a dangerous sub-$3 level at the end of 2019 to above $14 as of Wednesday, thanks to strong delivery numbers and a broad market excitement on EV companies triggered by Tesla’s wild stock jump this year so far.

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Nio went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2018. Its stock trajectory is not short of volatility and setbacks, but the recent rebound seems to have encouraged many of its Chinese peers to raise funds in the U.S.

Last week, Chinese EV startup Li Auto made its debut on NASDAQ. Its similarly aged Tesla challenger, Xpeng Motors, has also reportedly filed an IPO in the U.S., per CNBC. The company has decided on which exchange to list shares on. 

Ahead of its market debut, CNBC reported that Xpeng has raised $400 million in fresh capital from a slew of powerful investors, including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

These aggressive IPOs come at a highly unusual time of rising political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China. In fact, listing Chinese firms on American stock exchanges has been a concern for some investors ever since the 2018 trade war. Still, a record number of Chinese companies have chosen to file IPOs in the U.S. Last year, 28 Chinese companies, including three special-purpose acquisition companies, went public on NYSE or Nasdaq, according to Renaissance Capital, which sells IPO-focused exchange-traded funds. The previous year, 33 Chinese firms went public in the U.S., hitting the nine-year high since 2010.

Tesla’s Chinese Rivals Are Riding an IPO Boom in the US Despite Political Tensions