On 6 May 2021, Nio announced its market strategy for Norway, its first step overseas. The Chinese electric vehicle startup revealed that it plans to build a 360-degree ecosystem that includes services, cars, lifestyle, digital experience, and an EV owner community in its first European market. The Nio ES8 SUV, the flagship Nio model, is going to Norway first, later this year. The Nio ET7 sedan would follow as the second car in 2022.
On 10 June 2021, Nio disclosed new progress in its Norwegian project. The company has received the mandatory type approval certificate, called ‘European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA),’ for the Nio ES8. Meanwhile, a new issue was cropping up about VAT exemption for the BaaS business model, as per a report from Bilbransje24.
Norway’s government doesn’t see the Nio BaaS eligible for VAT exemption because the customer does not buy but only leases the battery pack under the alternative ownership model. Nio Norway has discussed the matter with the Ministry of Finance in the country but apparently hasn’t received a solution. Marius Hayler, the General Manager of the local subsidiary, has declined to comment about the developments.
Nio has confirmed that it will offer the ES8 in Norway with a 100 kWh battery pack with a range of 500 km (WLTP). 6- and 7-seat seating layout options, 1861 liters luggage space, 1500 kg towing capacity, and a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 4.9 seconds are some of the specifications the company has confirmed.
The acceleration time suggests that there would be two motors enabling an all-wheel drive layout and generating 400 kW (544 PS/536 bhp) and 725 Nm. Nomi AI companion, Nio Pilot autonomous driving system, and Nio OS are the features on board the ES8 units destined for Norway. There’s no word on the pricing yet.
The first batch of the Nio ES8 for Norway left the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Port in China on 20 July 2021. Wallenius Wilhelmsen carrier Torino is transporting the export batch of Nio EVs. Nio says that customers deliveries in Norway are on track to begin in September 2021.
Nio has reaffirmed that it will offer Nio Power system, Nio Service and Delivery Center, Nio, House, Nio App, and Nio Life to its Norwegian customers. In other recent updates, CnEVPost has reported that Nio has started hiring more aggressively in Europe. With the first product launch due in two months, we wouldn’t say we didn’t see this coming. The company has established its regional headquarters in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Sales & Service network
Nio would build sales and service networks in the Norwegian market. The first ‘Nio House’ as the company terms it will be inaugurated during the third quarter on Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s cultural and business center.
Marius Hayler, General Manager, Nio Norway, has confirmed to ElectricVehicleWeb that in addition to the Nio House, the company will open a Nio Service and Delivery Center (NSC) in Oslo/Ensjø in September. Customer test drives will begin the same month. By next year, it will open four Nio Spaces in the Norwegian cities of Stavanger, Bergen, Kristiansand, and Trondheim.
Premium after-sale experience for Nio customers in Norway will extend to service as well. A 1,800 square-foot delivery and service center is coming up in Oslo this September. Moreover, Nio plans to offer a pickup and delivery service for convenient vehicle service and mobile vehicle service. A technician would give a visit to the customer’s location for the maintenance/repair work.
Following the teasers, Hayler told Bilbransje24 that the company would open the first Nio Norway showroom in Oslo this September. Nio plans to open its first Norwegian showroom in Oslo at Karl Johans gate 33A, just a few blocks away from a Polestar Oslo showroom. The facility will have space for a four-car display.
The ground floor will have a display area for lifestyle products (presumably Nio Life items) and a separate configuration room for cars. There will be meeting rooms, playrooms for children, a ‘Flexible Activity Room,’ and a library with a fireplace in the basement. A cafe and bar with windows facing Karl Johans gate are also planned for Nio customers in Oslo.
Battery swapping station
Nio confirmed that it would introduce its battery swapping system to Norwegian customers. It intends to establish a charging map for all of Europe and introduce its first four ‘NIO Power Swap’ stations.
By the end of 2022, Nio estimates to have swap stations in Norway connecting 5 major freeways and cities. The company will launch the Nio app for Europe in the third quarter for a digital experience of the products and services.
By the end of 2021, our aim is to build four swap stations in and around the Oslo region to provide users in the Oslo region with an experience where you worry as little as possible about the range. With the swap stations, you can easily travel to your cabin on the weekends without charging. During 2022, our plan is to bring swap station to Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Kristiansand. But let me assure you that Nio Power swap stations will also be placed on other locations in Norway.Marius Hayler, General Manager Norway, Nio
On 7 July 2021, Nio Power Home, Nio Power Swap Station, and Nio Power Charger received the TUV Rheinland European Conformity Certificate and TUV MARK Approval Certificate. Now that the company has received these certifications, it can sell and operate them in all European Union countries. The same day, Nio said that it plans to build up its complete power service system in Norway.
Nio plans to ready its charging map for Europe and start the first four Nio Power Swap Stations in the region this year. The company has shipped the first Nio Power Swap Stations and Nio Power Chargers to Norway.
Deutsche Bank analyst Edison Yu says Nio lacks brand awareness and expects it to face an uphill battle, TipRanks reported on 8 June 2021. However, seeing that the company does not plan to be just another importer, it could eventually become familiar in Europe. The decision to set up a complete ecosystem including battery swap stations reflects Nio’s sincerity towards the European markets. The commitment should start paying off not long after expanding its availability to all main markets in the region.
Conventional charging methods for ES8 & ET7
Nio customers in Norway will be able to use Plugsurfing charging network’s charging stations as well, which means a hassle-free charging experience while driving outside Norway anywhere in Europe. “We will have a cooperation with Plugsurfing to provide our users with European-wide charging capability through more than 20,000 charging points,” said Marius Hayler, General Manager Norway, Nio.
The brand has also announced its User Advisory Board Project. Users in Norway are invited to share their ideas on charging and swapping convenience, store operations, service quality, and other aspects of the brand.
Norway pre-launch preparations
Nio says that it awaits the technologically-savvy Norwegian’s view on the Nio Navigate On Pilot autonomous driving tech, Firmware-Over-The-Air OTA capability, and NOMI (Nio’s artificial intelligence in-car assistant).
Qin Linhong, Director and President, Nio, has told the Chinese publication Global Times that it has started building an after-sales service point and a data center in the region to gear up for the entry. Citing Qin, the report says that Nio cars in Europe could be pricier than Audi models.
Norway’s interest in electric vehicles
Norway’s huge demand for EVs, driven by an aggressive government push, makes it the most attractive market for automakers launching EVs in Europe. For some companies, Norway happens to be the most lucrative export market globally. In December 2020, Xpeng Motors entered Norway as its first overseas market, and FAW’s Hongqi brand announced plans to serve Norwegian customers this year.
Norway became the world’s first country in which more than 50% of new vehicle sales were of electric cars, Norsk elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association) said in a report. In another report, Norsk elbilforening said that 76,789 electric cars were sold in Norway last year and that their market share was a whopping 54.3%. Norway plans to switch completely to electric cars by 2025, and EV brands are making it a priority market.
In more recent developments at Nio, the company sees a trend of alternative vehicle ownership modes. “Along with the growing user base and expanding battery offerings, more and more users opt for Battery-as-a-Service, BaaS,” William Bin Li, Chairman and CEO, Nio, told analysts during the Q4 2020 earnings conference call. “In February 2021, the take rate of BaaS among new orders has reached 55%,” Bin Li added.
On the Nio ET7
The Nio ET7 features the company’s latest autonomous driving technology that allows hands-free driving on expressways, and during parking and battery swapping. It also features a new version of the brand’s NOMI, the world’s first in-car companion (with AI). Two more highlights worth mentioning are a new 12.8-inch AMOLED centre display with a much better resolution and contrast compared to the unit in existing Nio models, and a 7.1.4 channel sound system with 23 speakers and a 1,000-watt total output.
Powering the Nio ET7 is a permanent magnet synchronous motor at the front and an induction motor at the rear. The PMSM produces 180 kW (245 PS) and 350 Nm, while the induction motor generates 300 kW (408 PS) and 500 Nm. Together, they offer 480 kW (653 PS) of power and 850 Nm of torque. Battery pack options include conventional 70 kWh and 100 kWh units offering a range of 500+ km and around 700 km, respectively. The 150 kWh solid-state unit allows a range of 1,000+ km, but this option won’t become available before Q4 2022, though.
The Nio ET7 is an executive or E-segment sedan, an all-electric alternative to conventional business sedans like the Mercedes E-Class. Set to be launched in Q1 2022, it will rival the Mercedes EQE, Tesla Model S, and Porsche Taycan. It is confirmed for the Norwegian market in 2022.
EV share in new car sales in Norway to continue rising
In an internal interview in January this year, Christina Bu, Secretary-General (Generalsekretær), Norwegian EV Association (Norsk elbilforening), said that the share of EVs in new car sales will increase further. “Our preliminary forecast is that the market share for electric cars will pass 65 percent in 2021,” she said (translated).
In March 2021, Nikkei Asia reported that Norway has 35 chargers per 10,000 people, a far higher number than France (around 6.9 per 10,000 people) and Japan (around 2.3 per 10,000). EVs in Norway get VAT exemption, access to bus lanes, lower parking fee, and many incentives, as per Norsk elbilforening. The country’s government aims to convert new car sales entirely to EVs by 2025.
Nio sales picking up in China
The latest sales data released by Nio indicates that sales are growing in China. The company sold 41,956 EVs in the first half of 2021. Compared to the 14,169 EVs it sold in the first half of 2020, that’s a 196% year-over-year growth. Note that only the Nio ES8 and Nio ES6 were on sale in H1 2020, while this year, the Nio EC6 was also available in the market. The electric SUV coupe is quite popular among the three models.
In June 2021, Nio delivered 3,755 units of the ES6, 2,830 units of the EC6, and 1,498 units of the ES8. As of 30 June 2021, cumulative sales of the models stood at 117,597 vehicles.
Featured image: Nio