Chinese EV maker Nio charges into five European countries

Chinese EV maker Nio charges into five European countries. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

Chinese EV maker Nio charges into five European countries

  • Chinese automaker Nio opened its first European showroom in Norway
  • One in every four customers who test-drove a Nio bought the EV car
  • Although there are no plans on production currently, success in Europe could prompt the company to produce locally

Two years ago, Chinese electric-vehicle startup Nio Inc was nearing bankruptcy. A year later, it surged to become the world’s fourth most valuable automaker, surpassing General Motors Co. and Daimler. After being at the forefront of the country’s home-made effort to dominate the EV industry, the Chinese carmaker is now moving towards expanding into five new European countries by next year.

The first step Nio made under its expansion drive in the region was opening a showroom in Norway known as Nio House. Nio founder and CEO Li Bin said Nio will be ” in at least five European markets [in addition to Norway] by the end of 2022.” He shared the company’s ambitions for Europe in an earnings call earlier last month.

It is also fair to note that in Norway, one in every four customers who test-drove a Nio bought the car, a figure higher compared to China, according to Li. 

The Chinese EV maker’s European plan

In an article published recently by the Swedish Dagens Industri, Nio’s chief operating officer Lihong Qin told the publication that it will begin sales in Sweden at the end of 2022. That also means Sweden is one of five European countries Nio will enter in 2022 following its European market debut in Norway in September.

Then there is also Germany where Nio will begin sales next year, starting with its ET7 sedan. Nio currently sells the ES8 large SUV in Norway with plans to add the ET7 sedan, ES6 SUV and related coupe-styled EC6. To top it off, according to reports Nio is building four battery swap stations around the Norwegian capital of Oslo this year, with 12 more planned in other cities next year. The swaps are done in three minutes as a quicker alternative to charging.

While Nio depicts Tesla’s direct sales model in which customers buy the car online, it has also built two multi-use showrooms in city centers called Nio House and another one in Oslo. Qin told Automotive News Europe in 2020 that success in Europe could prompt the company to produce locally,   “If we achieve very good sales in other regions then maybe we could consider local production in the future, but it’s still too early to say,” he said.

As a market, Europe is not a region that can be overlooked by automakers especially for those producing EVs. At this point, EVs and fossil-fuel alternatives sales are soaring in Europe as the bloc seeks to combat global warming. In fact, data shows that almost one in five vehicles sold in the European Union was an electric model during the third quarter this year.

Within the July to September period, EV sales made up 12.7% total new car sales in 18 major European markets, more than double the figure for the same period last year, which came to 6.1%, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Overall, the number of EVs sold during the quarter totaled 303,273, up 57% from a year earlier.