Chinese EV giant NIO plans on building on its initial Europe success with a new lineup of affordable compact cars. However, given NIO's premium status they will be sold under a different brand name. A budget friendly sub-brand, codenamed Firefly, is currently in development and will be launched in 2024.
The Firefly brand's first model will reportedly be an affordable hatchback with a starting price of under €30,000 ($33,290). It will have battery swapping capabilities, meaning a depleted pack will be able to be replaced by fully charged one in just 5 minutes.
NIO Group CEO William Li had the following to say when quizzed on the firm's European plans (via AutoCar):
“In Europe, there’s definitely a higher demand for smaller vehicles. For compact cars, the proportion of the battery cost will be bigger than [the cost in] another car. But this challenge is universal; it’s not only for NIO. Other compact models in Europe are facing a similar challenge.”
Li believes NIO can get ahead of the competition through its innovative battery swapping service. NIO plans on having 1,000 swap stations outside China by the end of 2025.
“This is all about competition, and competition is always relative. If we can outplay somehow in the product feature and with what NIO stands for, with our Power Grid and other services, if the overall experience we can provide for future European users is better in some areas, then we can establish our competitiveness, then we can get our fair share.”
NIO's first European model, the ET5 wagon, will launch later this year. Available with a 75 kWh, 100 kWh or 150 kWh battery pack, the ET5 wagon was created with the European buyer in mind. It will go on sale in continental Europe first, with China following a few months later.