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China’s Nio to Challenge Volkswagen, Toyota With Mass-Market Brand

China’s shift into mass-market electric cars is poised to quicken as Nio Inc. announces a new brand to take on Toyota and Volkswagen. Its first sedan and two other new models will launch in 2022. 

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CEO Wiliam Li at Nio show
Nio CEO is seen at a presentation in May 2021 on the group's first sedan, the ET7. But the Covid lockdown in Shanghai in April set Nio and its local rival Li back, while Xpeng may have weathered the storm slightly better. Photo: Reuters.

China’s premium electric carmaker Nio Inc, which counts BMW and Audi as rivals, is working on a new mass-market brand that will go head to head with Volkswagen and Toyota.

The automaker has stepped up preparations to make mass-market products under another brand and a “core team” had been assembled as a “first step of a strategic initiative”, chief executive William Li said on Thursday.

“The relationship between Nio and our new mass-market brand will be like that of Audi-Volkswagen and Lexus-Toyota,” Li said. “We want to provide better product and service at prices lower than Tesla Inc’s.” 

The new brand would not compete with Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV, the popular micro EV made by General Motors’ Chinese joint venture with SAIC Motor, Li added.

Nio plans to deliver three new car models next year, including its first sedan. Currently, the company is making and selling three SUV models in the eastern city of Hefei.

The company delivered 21,879 vehicles between April and June, up from 10,331 units in the same period last year. It reported a 659 million yuan (about $102 million) loss in the second quarter, 45% less than a year ago.

To expand its product lineup to compete with rivals including Tesla and BMW, Nio launched its first sedan model ET7 in January but delivery will only start in 2022, leaving Nio without a new model this year.

Li did not offer details of the three new models for next year, which include ET7, but said they would be developed on Nio‘s new product platform.  Nio is also expanding its production base in Hefei city.  In May, it launched its branch in Norway and plans to start selling cars in the country as it pushes to expand globally.

• Reuters and Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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