What a difference a year makes.
After the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Nio was dangerously short of cash in early 2020, it was thrown to the lifeline by a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies and has since passed its rival ET7 Tesla Model S and the milestone of 100,000 vehicles on the road.
Nios vehicles are already popular alternatives to Tesla models in the Chinese market. Now the company is in the early stages of launching a mass market brand to challenge more affordable electric vehicles that will soon be coming from Toyota and Volkswagen.
“The relationship between Nio and our new mass market brand will be similar to that of Audi-Volkswagen and Lexus-Toyota,” said William Li, CEO and founder of Nio, in an interview with Reuters published last week.
Nio CEO and founder William Li with the 2022 ET7
Li didn’t set any specific price targets, but said he wanted to undercut Tesla’s prices while offering better products and services. The cheapest Nio currently available starts at around 300,000 yuan (approx. 46,290 US dollars). One strategy Nio is likely to use for its new brand to bring prices down is to offer batteries through a subscription, which the company is already doing.
But it is still at the beginning. According to Li, the company has only taken the first step in forming a core team to work on developing the new brand.
The current product range from Nio consists of the small crossovers ES6 and EC6 and the medium-sized crossover ES8. The mid-range sedan ET7 presented in January is expected to be delivered in early 2022. The company currently only sells vehicles in China, but plans to start sales in Norway later this year.
The company recorded around 42,000 deliveries in the first half of 2021, almost 200% more than in the same period of the previous year.