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EV delays hit Hesai's 2024 sales forecast

22 May 2024

Chinese lidar company cuts annual revenue expectations by around $50M as customer Li Auto delays launch.

Hesai Technology, the Shanghai-headquartered maker of lidar sensors for automotive applications, has posted sales of ¥359 million ($50 million) for the opening quarter of 2024, down nearly 17 per cent on the same period last year.

The Nasdaq-listed company, which recently filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Defense (DoD) listing that alleges an affiliation with the Chinese military - something Hesai denies vehemently - has also revised down its sales expectations for the full year by around $50 million, to somewhere between $350 million and $400 million.

But CEO and co-founder Yifan Li highlighted that Hesai’s lidar shipments totaled nearly 60,000 units in the March quarter, up 70 per cent year-on-year as the typical selling price of the sensors continues to drop.

Despite a recent decision by China-based customer Li Autos to delay the launch of its latest electric vehicle to next year, he told an investor conference call that 2024 was still likely to be a “decisive year” in the adoption of lidar in vehicles beyond luxury models.

“The growing demand for mass market lidar presents a golden opportunity for us, an enormous market with a potential [for] tens of millions shipment volumes,” said Li.

Legal action
The latest sales figures translated to an operating loss of ¥139 million ($19 million), with the Hesai executive team still hopeful of turning a profit by the end of this year as shipments to EV makers mostly based in China ramp up.

CEO Li also confirmed earlier reports that the company is taking legal action against the DoD listing.

“Following the company's inclusion on the [DoD] list, Hesai has faced significant challenges,” he said in response to an investor question. “Additionally, Hesai has been the focus of intense media scrutiny, which has, at times, inaccurately portrayed our business activities.

“It's clear the misinformation spread by some of the competitors [previously] found their way to the government agencies. With our continuous effort to [clarify] the facts we have successfully convinced the US government and its agencies to revise their evidence.

“I would like to clarify and emphasize again that Hesai operates strictly within the civilian sector and has no connections or affiliation with any military. Our products are designed exclusively for a civilian application, are not designed or validated for military use.

“We filed a lawsuit to defend ourselves. We seek to open dialogue with the DoD to better understand why it added us to the list. Ultimately, we want to understand [what] their concerns are, [and we are] very willing to find a mitigation solution together.”

• Following the latest update and downgraded sales forecast for 2024, Hesai’s stock price dropped in value by close to 14 per cent, and as a result its market capitalization now stands at around $600 million.

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