Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Nio, which positions itself as a premium carmaker, is ramping up efforts to build mass-market EVs under another brand.

That’s according to Nio CEO William Li, who said last week that a “core team” had been assembled as a “first step of a strategic initiative.

"The relationship between Nio and our new mass-market brand will be like that of Audi-Volkswagen and Lexus-Toyota," Li said, without talking pricing. Nio’s current models, the ES6 mid-size SUV, EC6 mid-size crossover coupe, and ES8 full-size SUV are mostly priced above 300,000 yuan (about $46,500) in the company’s home market.

Also referred to as the Chinese Tesla, Nio plans to undercut products of the real Tesla in the world’s largest car market with its new brand. "We want to provide better product and service at prices lower than Tesla Inc’s,” Li added.

Gallery: NIO ET7

He also said that the new brand would not produce rivals for budget EVs like the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, which starts at 28,800 yuan ($4,450).

Nio plans to deliver three new electric models next year, including its first sedan, the ET7. First unveiled in January 2021, the Tesla Model S-sized EV will start reaching customers in 2022, meaning that Nio won’t have any new product launches this year.

Li did not provide details on the other two models planned for 2022 but said they would be developed on Nio's new product platform.

The company, which counts among its largest shareholders CEO William Li (10%), Tencent Holdings Limited (8.3%), and Baillie Gifford & Co (6.6%), opened an overseas office in Norway in May and has already shipped a first batch of ES8 SUVs there last month. Local deliveries are expected to start in September.


Nio builds its three SUV models in the eastern city of Hefei, and plans to expand the production base there. The company delivered 21,879 vehicles in China in the second quarter, up from 10,331 units in the same period last year.

Nio has reported a 659.3 million yuan ($101.8 million) loss in the second quarter, 45.4% narrower than a year earlier.

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