Nio to deliver EVs to Norway from September
Published: May 06, 2021 08:33 PM
The Nio booth at the 19th International Automobile Industry Exhibition (Auto Shanghai 2021) on Tuesday Photo: Xie Jun/GT

The Nio booth at the 19th International Automobile Industry Exhibition (Auto Shanghai 2021) on Tuesday Photo: Xie Jun/GT

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio on Thursday announced plans to sell cars in Norway, the first overseas destination in the global market exploration for the company. Nio is one of China's most prominent EV start-ups which is also considered a strong competitor to Tesla. 

Nio will start delivering its electric sport utility vehicle ES8 in Norway from September, while another sedan model - ET7 - will be launched in 2022, said Nio CEO Li Bin at a press conference in Shanghai. Other Nio models will also enter Norway at later stages.

Nio has not set any sales target in Norway for the time being. 

Li said that Norway's market is "neither too large nor too small", which the company considered an appropriate choice for its first overseas promotion. Norway's EV-friendly policies lure the brand to test the waters there. 

The company said that its overseas exploration, starting with Norway, will spread to other foreign markets. It plans to start selling cars in five European countries next year, while countries like the US are also within its consideration. 

"Our overseas plan must be a very long-term one...this is an industry where you can't handle the matters at hand well, if you don't think about what will happen five years later," Li told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Nio is among a number of Chinese EV upstarts that are seeking to sell cars overseas. Last year, Chinese electric car maker Xpeng delivered the first batch of 100 G3 cars to Norway. In November, WM Auto signed a letter of intent with Uber to export its cars to Europe.

This could be seen as a trend as domestic carmakers rush to explore overseas markets as EV sales rise around the world. But experts cautioned over whether Chinese brands could grab market share from prominent overseas EV brands like Tesla. 

"The competition faced by Nio and its domestic peers in overseas markets is fiercer than when Tesla started its global exploration, as the EV market was still a blue ocean then," Zhang Xiang, a research fellow at the Research Center of Automobile Industry Innovation under the North China University of Technology, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

According to Zhang, it is a normal practice for car companies that have earned ample profits at home market to tap overseas markets, but since Nio has not made profits yet, its exploration of overseas markets will be more challenging, and the time to become profitable will be prolonged. 

Nio reported a net loss of 350 million yuan ($54.04 million) in the first quarter.

Li said that given the current uncertainty in the world, it is harder for a Chinese car company to tap overseas markets than a few years ago, but it's something that the company "needs to do" despite the difficulties. 

"There's no reason why a Chinese car company can't survive in overseas markets if it can survive in the world's most competitive EV market - China. Our advantages are determination and patience," Li said. 

Qin Lihong, president of Nio, told the Global Times on Thursday that Nio has not conducted any customer surveys in Norway, but it recently invited some Europeans who live in Shanghai to test the vehicles, and their feedback was "positive."