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UPDATE 2-China's EV maker Li Auto expects monthly sales to reach 10,000 cars in Sept

(Adds PIX slug)

BEIJING, May 26 (Reuters) - China’s electric vehicle maker Li Auto expects sales to reach 10,000 cars a month from September and will expand its sales network, executives said on Wednesday.

Li Auto President Shen Yanan said Li Auto, which has only one model, expects monthly sales of its facelifted Li ONE extended-range electric sport-utility vehicle model to nearly double by September. It sold 5,539 cars in April.

Shen said the firm would expand its sales network and continue to use a direct-sales model strategy to sell its vehicles, adding that it is building a team to research selling overseas. It has 75 stores in more than 50 Chinese cities.

Li Auto, with a market capitalisation of $18 billion, is competing with Tesla Inc and a swathe of Chinese EV makers, including Nio Inc and Xpeng Inc.

CEO Li Xiang said Li Auto plans to invest 3 billion yuan in research and development this year, and expects that number to grow.

Li said he open to further fundraising options, including bonds, loans and follow-ons.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Gerry Doyle

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