Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio unveiled two models at a glittering annual customer event, expanding its lineup in a bid to grab a bigger share of the market as demand for cars in China slows.
At the event in Hefei in central Anhui province, Shanghai-based Nio launched a revamped ES8, an iteration of the original electric SUV it’s been selling since 2018, and a new pure electric coupe dubbed the EC7.
With a starting price of 488,000 yuan ($69,800), the coupe targets buyers who want more space as well as sporty performance. The new ES8 will start at 528,000 yuan. Deliveries are expected to begin in May and June, respectively.
Nio Day, first held in 2017, is a gathering for corporate partners, customers and media meant to foster brand loyalty and a sense of community around the automaker.
Nio also presented its latest generation of battery swapping stations, which allow drivers to quickly swap out their battery for a new one instead of recharging the existing one. Each of the upgraded stations allows a maximum of 408 swaps per day, and can store as many as 21 replacement cells.
In addition, the company demonstrated a power swapping pilot for highways, with which the driver can stay inside the car and leave it all up to the vehicle to automatically plan the route for changing batteries, driving to the closest available power swap stations through intelligent navigation, completing the swap, and driving out of the service area, back onto the highway.
About 4,000 participants from across China attended the gala, despite surging COVID cases in various cities. As many as 248 million people, or nearly 18 percent of the China’s population, likely contracted the virus in the first 20 days of December, Bloomberg reported earlier.
In a year in which China’s major auto shows were delayed or canceled, Nio rewarded its followers not only with the new models, but also a concert featuring local pop singers, as well as short films and a charity bazaar.
Nio delivered 106,671 vehicles in the first 11 months of the year, up almost 32 percent from the same period of 2021. Even so, annual deliveries are expected to miss its original target of 150,000 units given the challenges posed by the pandemic and China’s strict adherence to a COVID-19 zero policy for much of 2022.
The company was particularly hard hit by Shanghai’s two-month lockdown in the spring. The restrictions forced a temporary suspension of production at Nio’s plant in Hefei, and kept consumers away from showrooms.