SINGAPORE: In the pursuit of elevating the electric vehicle (EV) landscape, Chinese electric car company NIO is committed to building a more premium brand than Tesla.

According to The Edge Singapore, NIO has not only set ambitious goals since its inception in 2014 but has also implemented innovative technologies to redefine the user experience in the EV sector.

When Chen Rui joined NIO in 2017, the company had a distinctive vision. While most Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers targeted the lower end of the market, NIO aimed higher, focusing on the premium sector. Chen, now the head of investor relations, highlights the company’s unique approach to address a key concern associated with electric cars—the charging time.

He said, “Most vehicles have to charge for hours to get their battery fully charged. Even using the latest super charging piles, they still need at least 20 to 30 minutes, to get its battery up from about 20% to 80%.”

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NIO’s revolutionary battery-swapping system allows users to fully charge their vehicles in just five minutes, providing a “convenient and premium experience.”

With over 2,300 power swap stations and 20,000 chargers globally, NIO’s infrastructure has earned recognition, leading to partnerships with major Chinese automakers like Changan Auto and Geely Holding.

These collaborations underscore the value of NIO’s battery-swapping system in the competitive EV landscape, where NIO currently commands a 40% market share in China’s premium electric vehicle sector.

NIO’s strategic move in the market

NIO’s strategic move to list on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018, followed by listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Singapore Exchange in 2022, has proven pivotal. This triple listing not only marked a significant milestone but also facilitated global investor access, enabling multiple fundraising activities that brought in a substantial $10 billion.

The capital influx has empowered NIO to invest in research and development, expand market presence, enhance production capacity, and fortify its power networks. One notable advancement is the expansion of its Navigate-on-Pilot Plus (NOP+) smart assisted-driving feature, covering around 320,000 km of urban pilot routes in 208 cities by the end of 2023.

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Chen said, “We will really reshape the way people use our cars, change how people look at and think about smart electric vehicles, and make them more likely to buy one.”

Looking ahead, NIO plans to launch two mass-market brands, Alps and Firefly, targeting a broader customer base.

The Alps brand, with a pricing range similar to Tesla’s in China, aims to capture the RMB 200,000 to 300,000 market ( $37,000 to $55,500). Simultaneously, NIO eyes tier two and three cities in China, while also exploring opportunities in Southeast Asia, considering Singapore as a potential regional hub.

“With Southeast Asia especially, we believe we will be able to do better with a combination of more affordable mass-market products and premium products. In fact, we think Singapore could be a regional base for us for the market. It could be a regional headquarter for our sales and service, and research and development initiatives,” he said.

Despite its growth, NIO remains committed to its start-up-like culture, prioritising superior user experiences. With over 30,000 employees from diverse backgrounds, NIO fosters a culture of innovation and trust, empowering employees to contribute to the company’s goals.

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NIO’s vehicle lineup, coupled with its focus on technology, positions it as a formidable player in the evolving automotive industry. As NIO continues to push boundaries, it aims to establish itself as a “more premium electric vehicle brand” than Tesla, not only in China but worldwide./TISG