​Ten things we learnt from meeting Nio founder and CEO William Li​

Steve Fowler

24 May 2024

​Yesterday Electrifying met with Nio founder and CEO William Li at the opening of the new Nio House in Amsterdam. Here's what we learnt:

1. Nio will be coming to the UK. "Probably in 2025," Li told us.

2. It won't just be the Nio brand coming to the UK. New mainstream brand Onvo and budget brand Firefly (just a codename for now) models have been engineered for right-hand drive.

3. According to Li, the Onvo L60 - a direct rival to the Tesla Model Y - will be coming to Europe "As soon as possible. We don't need to spend too much effort to adapt to European markets".

4. Nio, Onvo and Firefly "Will be targeting different users - there will be a differentiation in product, but with smart tech and experiences different from the ICE age. Onvo and Firefly will be more of an online community than offline touchpoints".

5. Since the reveal of the Onvo L60, there has been an "Uptick in Nio," said Li.

6. I understand the long-term benefits of Nio's Power Swap Stations much better now. It's not just about shorter charging times, it's about flexibility of battery sizes and ranges. 

Li told us, "18 months ago, 50% of customers chose the 75kWh batteries and 50% chose 100kWh. Now over 95% choose the 75kWh.

"For two reasons: our users believe they don't need the higher capacity. Plus there are flexible upgrade opportunities. They can upgrade to a 100kWh battery for €7 per day. So for a ten day trip that would cost €70. And in China you can upgrade to a 150kWh battery for €20 a day.

"It can save users a lot of money and reduce the resources needed to make the batteries.

"Many households can't have charging – Power Swap is more important for them."

Plus, of course, Power Swap Stations can help the grid in storing and releasing power at the right time, and there are Nio Superchargers at the same sites. "We're installing 630kW superchargers," said Li.

7. Unsurprisingly, Li is very much against any proposed tariffs. "We believe good products and good services should be enjoyed by users worldwide," he said. "We are from China, but we're a global company.

"The investigation from the European Commission down not make sense. On tariffs, we're against such an approach - new energy vehicles are very important to reduce carbon emissions. Tariffs do not make sense on such products like this and solar panels".

8. European production is a possibility, and talks are underway. "When we reach a certain volume [in Europe] it will become a business decision.

"Partnering with a European manufacturer could be an option - it's what happened in the early days in China. We are in conversations with local partners in Europe to explore possibilities."

9. Li wants to expand Nio's Power Swap Alliance. "Seven companies in China will use our Power Swap technologies," he said. "We hope car companies join the Power Swap Alliance. We've had some conversations [with global car companies] - we've had discussions for over one year and there's still no decision. In China that was two months."

British luxury automotive start-up Forseven’s technology-sharing agreement with Nio includes battery-swap technology, according to Li.

10. In China, you snooze, you lose! "In China, if it takes you more than 24 months to develop a car you're behind,” Li told us. “And if you're not producing software updates every quarter, the users may give you up." On other companies putting Nio’s battery-swap technology into products, Li said with a smile, “It will take some time to put into product planning and engineer. Possibly 24 months!”

The opening of the new Nio House in Amsterdam

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