NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) Looks Overseas for Growth Opportunities

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) may be the most prominent player in the young electric vehicle (“EV”) sector, but there are plenty of EV makers scrambling to snatch the top spot away from the Palo Alto, California-based EV maker. One of Tesla’s major competitors is Chinese firm NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO), which has been dubbed by some as the next Tesla. Although NIO was recently facing financial hardship, it has rebounded with critical government support, delivering a total of 43,000 electric vehicles in 2020 more than double the 20,000 built in 2019.

Now, the Chinese electric vehicle giant has set its sight on Europe, and Norway will be its first step. China is the largest EV market in the world, but last year, Europe briefly outpaced China and held the top spot. And while China is now back as the most extensive EV market, Europe has plenty of growth potential, especially as major EV makers such as Tesla have yet to gain a foothold on the continent. Norway, which in 2020 was the first country in the world to see electric vehicle sales eclipse the sale of gas and petrol-powered vehicles (55% of all sales), presents an attractive starting point before NIO expands into the EU in 2022.

NIO will open its first overseas store and an 18,000-square-meter drive center in Oslo, Norway; the facility will be dubbed Nio House, says NIO Norway’s general manager Marius Hayler. The main attraction at the showroom will be the Nio ES8, a seven-seater SUV that currently sells for $73,000 in China. NIO will start taking orders for the ET7 premium sedan next year, with deliveries starting in 2022. The year will also see NIO open showrooms in four more cities in Norway as well as increase its battery swapping stations to 12 up from 4.

NIO already has 15 employees in Norway, and it plans on expanding that number to 50 individuals by the end of the year, Hayler says. While the Chinese firm has had plenty of success in its home country, thanks in part to generous government support, winning over the European market is another thing entirely. Consumers in the EU tend to buy from local brands, with German company Volkswagen accounting for 21% of EV sales in 18 major European markets. Generally, consumers appear to prefer electric vehicles from established brands rather than young, emerging startups like NIO.

Xpeng Motors and Aiways, both from China, have started delivering EVs in the EU, but European consumers still haven’t taken a liking to their cars. William Li, NIO’s founder and chief executive, says Chinese brands such as NIO are still new in Europe, and they will need time to establish themselves. Still, NIO will continue working towards its goal of becoming a global brand that dispenses high-quality products and services to users worldwide.

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