Chinese automaker Nio has been making a strong showing in the electric-vehicle race in China, with aims of challenging Tesla for EV sales supremacy in the country. The automaker claims it prices its vehicles competitively but offers more innovation and technology for the money. Nio CEO William Li says, “We want to provide better product and service at prices lower than Tesla Inc’s.”
Nio was founded in 2014 in Shanghai, China, with manufacturing starting up in 2017. Deliveries of its first vehicles began in June of 2018. Its debut model was the ES8, a premium seven-seat SUV starting around $68,000. Since then, it’s added three additional models to its lineup, and in April of this year, has eclipsed 100,000 vehicles sold, making it one of the most successful EV start-ups.
Tesla built its Giga Shanghai factory in 2018, and it’s the main manufacturer for the Model 3 and Model Y in Asia. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling EV in China before being dethroned by the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, which currently reigns as the best-selling EV in the world. Tesla is still doing extremely well in China but its competitors are increasing, improving, and in some instances, surpassing the veteran EV maker. In an initial quality survey conducted by J.D. Power aimed specifically at EVs, PHEVS, and other players in the “new energy vehicle” market, Nio took the number one spot in the battery electric vehicle segment, with Tesla settling for second.
Nio’s latest premium flagship sedan, the ET7, is currently going into production, with deliveries expected for sometime during 2022. The ET7 will come with a standard 70.0-kWh battery and 300 miles of range. Optional is a 100.0-kWh battery sporting 435 miles of range. Nio also says it has been working on a 150.0-kWh battery estimated to reach up to 620 miles. If it is able to deliver on that range, it will trump Tesla’s top performer by a sizeable margin, as the Model S Long Range currently maxes out at 402 miles. The ET7 has a starting price around $69,000, undercutting the Tesla by $20,000.
Another trick Nio has up its sleeve is its battery swapping service known as Battery as a Service (BaaS). It takes significantly less time to refill an internal combustion engine’s fuel tank than it does to charge an EV, but Nio’s solution for that is a service wherein the old battery is swapped with a fresh one when it’s about to run out. The user also has the option to choose the size of the battery. This subscription costs $151 for the 70-kWh battery and $228 for the 100.0-kWh. Signing up for this service will knock the base price of the car by $10,000, and this discount is available for all Nio models.
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