Chinese battery-electric vehicle (BEV) maker NIO has announced its entry point into the European market; Norway. While introducing two of its models in the coming years, the company is more broadly looking to establish an ecosystem in Europe. This will include cars, services, battery infrastructure and a ‘lifestyle’.
‘NIO will bring its joyful lifestyle to local users by building a community starting with vehicles. We will all share joy and grow together," said Marius Hayler, general manager of NIO Norway.
Chinese carmakers are sizing up an electrifying European market, where BEV demand continues to climb under the influence of incentive schemes. Given the popularity of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) in Norway, it looks to be an obvious point of entry. But as adoption increases elsewhere on the continent, companies like NIO will need to increase their footprint while competing with established OEMs.
Two models by 2022
NIO’s ES8 SUV will be its first BEV to hit Norway’s market, with the ET7 all-electric sedan slated to follow in 2022. Building its own sales and service network in the country, the carmaker will set up shop for these vehicles directly. Designed as a futuristic showroom, the first ‘NIO House’ outside of China will open in the third quarter of this year in Karl Johans Gate, Oslo. 2022 will see doors opening in four further locations: Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Kristansand.
Alongside this, the BEV builder’s first service and delivery centre in Oslo will swing into action in September. Then, in 2022, its aftersales service network will expand nationwide. As part of a ‘premium service experience’ in Norway, NIO will provide a mobile service, as well as car pickup-and-delivery offerings.
NIO will be looking to make an impact in Norway with its battery charging and swapping technology. Launched in August last year, its ‘Battery-as-a-Service’ allows BEV owners to swap out their used battery for a fresh one, or they can simply recharge them. The carmaker looks to establish a charging map for Europe while also introducing four ‘Power Swap Stations.’ By the end of 2022, NIO estimates it will be able to connect five major cities and freeways in the country with battery swapping stations.
The Chinese firm will also introduce an app for the European market in the third quarter of 2021, promoting its ‘community and culture.’ Its lifestyle brand NIO Life will debut in Norway too, in collaboration with two Norwegian artists, Anette Moi and Sandra Blikås. The OEM will also launch its new User Advisory Board Project, hoping to engage users in Norway by allowing them to offer suggestions and ideas around product experiences, service quality, charging and swapping convenience, and store operations.
‘From its founding, NIO's vision is to be a global brand with high-quality products and services for users worldwide. Norway is a sustainable and innovative country and resonates with our vision,’ said William Li, founder, chairman, and CEO of NIO.’
Chinese firms, like NIO, are looking at the increasing drive for EV adoption in Europe. As outlined by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s (ACEA’s) latest figures, BEV uptake is on the rise. During the first quarter of 2021, registrations increased by 54.6% in Europe (including EU, EFTA and the UK), reaching 202,410 units, as government-backed incentives continued to boost demand. NIO’s decision to use Norway as a launchpad into the market makes a lot of sense on the surface, given its EV-positive outlook.
In the first three months of the year, the country enjoyed a 53% BEV share, making it the fourth-largest market in the region. In comparison, all European countries achieved only a 6.6% share. However, this does not make Norway an unending haven for BEV companies looking to launch in Europe. In terms of total car-market size, Norway comes 15th out of the 30 ACEA countries. This means that when electrification begins to dominate in other European markets, Norway will likely be displaced from its high perch.
NIO must therefore not simply look at Norway as an easier shallow pool to test new waters, but a springboard to dive into the deep end of the entire European market. An aggressive strategy will be needed to cement confidence in a new brand, while utilising new technology such as its ‘battery-swapping-service’ to set it apart from other local manufacturers.