Chinese EV brand Nio has confirmed that it will initiate its European roll-out within the coming months, with its ES8 SUV available to order in Norway from July.
Nio’s European Vice President Hui Zhang recently told Autocar that the firm was on track for a European launch in 2021, but had yet to decide which country it would sell cars in first.
Earlier this year, Norway became the first country in the world where the majority of new car sales were pure-electric cars. Nio CEO William Li said the Scandinavian country is “at the forefront of e-mobility andsustainable growth”, which coupled with its “strong sense of community and high purchasing power”, make it a “perfect fit” for Nio.
The ES8, on sale in China since 2018, is a seven-seat Tesla Model X rival with a combined 641bhp from its four-wheel-drive, twin-motor powertrain, and a WLTP-certified range of 310 miles. Prices will be confirmed in the coming months, ahead of customer deliveries beginning in September.
The ES8 will be followed in Europe in 2022 by Nio’s 644bhp ET7 saloon, which claims a range of more than 621 miles with its largest battery pack, and features a raft of advanced autonomy functions.
Most notably, Nio also intends to roll out its ‘Power Swap’ battery replacement service in the European market, which it claims “enables vehicle batteries to be automatically replaced within three minutes”. Four stations are set to enter operation this year, with several more to follow in 2022, creating a battery swap network in five Norweigan cities.
Nio will also build a ‘Supercharger’ network in Norway, and will offer customers installation of a bespoke home charging device.
As Zhang explained to Autocar, Nio’s European business model will centre around the same ‘online-to-offline’ (O2O) system it uses in China. Customers can place orders via a dedicated Nio app, while physical ‘Nio House’ centres will provide the brand with a physical presence in the market.
The first of these centres will open in the centre of Oslo in summer. It is described as “a special meeting place for Nio users and fans of the brand,” and will incorporate conference rooms, a playground, a restaurant and other “experience spaces”. Four more Nio House centres will open in Norway in 2022.
“We would only enter once conditions were right, we have the after sales and customer service infrastructure. The NIO houses, valet charging, NIO app are a key element of our offering in China so we have to consider what works in the UK. There are other considerations; the need for right hand drive requires additional engineering for a limited number of markets. We will continue to consider the benefits.”