NIO warns not to use EVs as a ‘political target’ amid EU expansion

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After confirming its European expansion plans, NIO CEO William Li said EVs “should never be used as a political target.” The warning comes as the EU weighs tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Expanding in Europe despite tariff talk

NIO officially opened the doors to its largest showroom in Europe this week. The new NIO House is located in the heart of Amsterdam. The new showroom is its second in the Netherlands and seventh in Europe.

With eight floors (NIO Houses are typically two floors), the new NIO House is a bold testament to the Chinese EV maker’s European expansion plans. NIO uses the “Houses” to showcase and sell its lineup of electric vehicles.

The expansion comes despite the European Commission launching an investigation over Chinese EV subsidies last year.

China is now threatening to retaliate with tariffs of up to 25% on imports. Despite this, NIO is standing by its growth plans in Europe. Li confirmed to reporters this week that NIO will continue its EU expansion plans amid growing tension.

NIO-EVs-political-target
NIO’s new showroom in Amsterdam, its largest in Europe (Source: NIO)

NIO says EVs should not be used as a political target

Li added, “Electric vehicles are very important for positive development of the environment, they should never be used as a political target.”

NIO’s boss said the EV maker would consider an EU plant with a regional partner. However, that’s if NIO can sell around 100,000 EVs annually. NIO only sold 2,404 vehicles in Europe last year, according to Dataforce (via Automotive News China).

NIO-EVs-political-target
NIO’s new showroom in Amsterdam (Source: NIO)

The brand’s new showroom, where about 10,000 people pass daily, could help spearhead NIO’s expansion.

EV sales in the Netherlands tripled last year, reaching 128,000, compared to the 43,000 sold in 2019. According to BOVAG, that’s about 30% of new vehicle sales.

NIO's-Onvo-L60-sales
NIO Onvo L60 launch event (Source: NIO

NIO launched the first EV under its new Onvo mass-market brand last week. Starting at $30,500 (219,900 yuan), the Onvo L60 electric SUV undercuts Tesla’s Model Y in China.

Tesla’s base RWD Model Y starts at $34,500 (249,900 yuan) with up to 554 km (344 mi) CLTC range. The new NIO Onvo L60 gets up to 555 km (341 mi) CLTC range.

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NIO Onvo L60 electric SUV (Source: NIO)

At 4,828 mm long, 1,930 mm wide, and 1,616 mm tall, the Onvo L60 will directly compete with Tesla’s best-selling Model Y (4,750 mm long X 1,921 mm wide X 1,624 mm tall) in China.

However, in Europe, that would likely be a different story. NIO’s mass-market Onvo brand is expected to launch a larger electric SUV next year. Meanwhile, four new NIO brand cars are expected to hit the market next year: the ET9 sedan, ET6 sedan, ES8 SUV, and ES7 SUV.

NIO Onvo L60 vs Tesla Model Y trims Range
(CLTC)
Starting Price
NIO Onvo L60 (60 kWh) 555 km (341 mi) 219,900 yuan ($30,500)
NIO Onvo L60 (90 kWh) 730 km (454 mi) TBD
NIO Onvo L60 (150 kWh) +1,000 km (+621 mi) TBD
Tesla Model Y RWD 554 km (344 mi) 249,900 yuan ($34,600)
Tesla Model Y AWD Long Range 688 km (427 mi) 290,900 yuan ($40,300)
Tesla Model Y AWD Performance 615 km (382 mi) 354,900 yuan ($49,100)
NIO Onvo L60 vs Tesla Model Y in China

NIO delivered 15,620 EVs last month, up 135% year over year. The EC6 (+53%), ES6 (+48%), and ET5 (+52%) all achieved double-digit growth month over month.

“If the product is done right, a single model could sell enough, as Tesla BYD has proven,” Li said.

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