Chinese electric automaker NIO (NYSE:NIO) said that it delivered 2,528 vehicles in November, down from a year ago but in line with its October result, as its sales rebound held steady after a tough second quarter.

NIO is still thought to be running dangerously low on cash. But the company is proceeding as if all is well, opening new stores and hinting that a new model is coming soon.

Best month of 2019, but still down from 2018

NIO's November delivery total was down 18% from November of 2018, but it was still the company's best month for deliveries since the beginning of the year. 

A bar chart showing that NIO's monthly sales rose sharply near the end of 2018, fell abruptly in January, and have gradually risen since

Data source: NIO. Chart by author. Chart shows monthly deliveries of NIO's ES8 (in blue) and ES6 (in green) since the start of ES8 production in June 2018.

In a statement, CEO William Li said that the company expanded its network of stores in November by opening 37 new "NIO Spaces." These are smaller and simpler (and less expensive) versions of its Apple-Store-inspired "NIO Houses." Together with the existing NIO Houses, the company now has one or more outlets in 41 Chinese cities. 

Li also noted that sales of NIO's larger ES8 crossover jumped over 50% from October as a new longer-range version launched last month began shipping to customers. NIO had said previously that a new 84 kilowatt-hour battery would become available on both the two-row (5-passenger) ES6 and the three-row (6 or 7 passenger) ES8 in October. 

A blue NIO ES8, an upscale three-row electric crossover SUV

Sales of NIO's larger ES8 rose in November thanks to some upgrades. Image source: NIO.

NIO had cut the price of the entry-level ES6 Standard Version at the end of September, ahead of the launch of the longer-range version. 

Is this good news?

It's hard to know, as NIO has been extraordinarily secretive about the state of its finances since it revealed on Sept. 24 that it had burned about $620 million in the second quarter, leaving it with just $503.4 million in cash as of June 30. 

The company had said in early September that it expected to raise $200 million by the end of the month, but it has yet to confirm whether that deal actually happened. China's National Business Daily reported that another anticipated financing deal, with a district government in Zhejiang province, fell through, with government officials citing "heavy risks" as the reason. 

That latter deal would have given NIO an infusion of at least $707 million, along with assistance in building a much-needed factory. 

Given all that, and given that NIO has yet to even announce a date for its third-quarter earnings release, it's hard to be optimistic about a very slight bump in sales. The stock has had a good rebound following news of a collaboration with Intel subsidiary Mobileye, but I think investors interested in this Chinese company should be very cautious until NIO gives us a clear picture of its financial situation and prospects.

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