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Tesla vs. NIO: Which EV Stock Will Gear Up in 2022?

Electric vehicles, or EV stocks, have been dominating the headlines recently, as their Q4 production and delivery numbers trickle in. Competition is also heating up in this sector, as new entrants like Rivian (RIVN) gear up to compete with existing incumbents like Tesla.

Meanwhile, Tesla is eyeing new markets like India, as the EV market globally is getting a boost with a friendly regulatory environment and government initiatives.

Using the stock comparison tool, let us compare two EV stocks, Tesla and NIO, and predict whether the uptick in Q4 delivery numbers could continue, using the website traffic data for these companies as a gauge.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA)

Tesla investors cheered in the New Year as the EV giant said that it had delivered 308,000 vehicles in Q4, a 27.6% jump in vehicle deliveries, quarter-over-quarter. In full-year 2021, it delivered 936,172 vehicles versus 499,647 vehicles that the company delivered in 2020 – a rise of 87% year-over-year.  The company’s vehicle deliveries were also a notch above consensus estimates of 893,755.

The stellar delivery numbers came in at a time when automobile manufacturers were plagued by supply shortages.

The strong delivery numbers led Mizuho Securities analyst Vijay Rakesh to be positive about TSLA’s performance in 2022, as the company’s factories in Austin and Berlin start production of its cars. Moreover, the analyst pointed out that the rise in deliveries of TSLA’s Cybertruck and 4680 batteries would result in the expansion of TSLA’s portfolio “into additional auto segments and driving down the battery cost curve.”

TSLA is focusing on lowering battery costs and adding to its available sources of supply of battery cells by manufacturing its own battery cells.

While Rakesh believes that the company’s gross margins could improve over time, 2022 could see some gross margin headwinds as initial production at Tesla’s factories in Texas and Berlin gradually ramps up. At least at the outset, the full potential capacity of these plants could be underutilized.

TSLA delivered a gross margin of 26.6% in Q3 on revenues of $13.76 billion.

The analyst remains bullish on the stock with a Buy rating and raised the price target from $950 to $1300 (26.6% upside) on the stock.

Rest of the Street is cautiously optimistic about the stock with a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 15 Buys, 9 Holds, and 5 Sells. The average Tesla stock prediction of $1,053.73 implies upside potential of 2.6% to current levels for this stock.

It is important here to note that TSLA also sells its EVs through its website, and visits to its website are telling. An indication of the strong delivery numbers in Q4 is also supported by the company’s Website traffic data.

This data, provided by SEMrush Holdings (SEMR) and available through the TipRanks Website Traffic tool, indicates that in Q4, unique visitors to the TSLA website were up 5.1% year-over-year and increased approximately 8.9%, quarter-over-quarter.

NIO (NYSE: NIO)

NIO designs, develops and manufactures premium electric vehicles. The company’s main market is China, but it has also made a foray into the European market.

This EV maker also delivered stellar delivery numbers and achieved a new quarterly record in Q4. The company delivered 25,034 vehicles in Q4, up 44.3% year-over-year and 10,489 vehicles in December alone, an increase of around 50% year-over-year.

NIO’s vehicle deliveries in 2021 soared 109.1% year-over-year to 91,429 vehicles.

Mizuho Securities analyst Vijay Rakesh was upbeat about these delivery numbers, in spite of production constraints due to supply chain shortages and “production line upgrades.”

The analyst is optimistic about NIO’s 2022 performance, as the company increases production and plans to launch its ET7 and ET5 sedans in March and September this year, respectively. NIO is also ramping up its plans to expand globally, including in countries like Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands.

ET7 is the company’s flagship premium smart electric sedan while ET5 is NIO’s mid-sized premium smart electric sedan.

Rakesh believes that the company’s ET5 could be a “viable competitor to the Tesla Model 3” and Lucid Group’s (LCID) vehicles.

The analyst is upbeat, with a Buy rating and a price target of $65 (121.8% upside) on the stock.

Rest of the analysts echo Rakesh and are bullish with a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 7 Buys and 1 Hold. The average NIO stock prediction of $61.86 implies upside potential of 111.1% to current levels for this stock.

NIO sells its vehicles through a combination of offline sales and online sales through its mobile application.

Using the TipRanks website traffic data for NIO, we see that total unique visitors to the NIO site on mobile are up 19.1% year-over-year in Q4.  Since China is a major market for NIO, the website traffic data for China is encouraging.

Interestingly, going by the website traffic data for Tesla in China, it seems that the company continues to make waves there.

Tesla’s unique visitors in China across all devices soared 251% in the month of December to 148,300.

In Q4, for NIO, total unique visitors to the site in China across all devices are up 22.5% year-over-year to 48,500, while monthly unique visitors in China in December were up a whopping 392.2% to 22,200.

Bottom Line

While analysts are cautiously optimistic about Tesla, they are bullish about NIO. Going by the upside over the next 12 months, NIO does seem to be a better Buy.

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Disclosure: At the time of publication, Shrilekha Pethe did not have a position in any of the securities mentioned in this article.

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