All eyes were on Chinese electric car maker NIO at the Auto China 2018 car show in Beijing yesterday.
China’s Tesla challenger
With its futuristic designs and high-tech features, some analysts have said that the automaker is getting close to what Tesla offers in the global electric vehicle market.
NIO’s founder and chairman William Li, dubbed the "Elon Musk of China,” told Inkstone he wants NIO to lead the way with autonomous, electric-powered, and smart vehicles.
In December last year, NIO delivered its first electric SUV, the ES8, to China: the world’s largest and fastest growing electric vehicle market.
Its supercar model, the EP9, holds several track records, including the fastest lap by an electric vehicle – and the fastest lap by an autonomous vehicle.
Currently, NIO has raised $2.1 billion in funding and is aiming to build a network of 1,200 mobile charging vans and 1,100 battery swap stations in China by 2020. It also wants to sell cars in Europe and USA.
In the past few years, China has seen surging sales of electric vehicles as the government vows to tighten emission control. The world sold 1.2 million electric vehicles in 2017: more than half of those sales were in China.
However, foreign brands only represent about 5% of sales due to China’s market entry rules, which force automakers to pay 25% in tariffs or build a joint venture with local companies.
However, in light of trade tensions with the US, China has pledged to open up its auto market by 2022.
China’s electric market is already crowded with hundreds of homegrown brands developed by well-known car makers such as Geely and BYD. Now foreign car makers may play a bigger role.
But NIO’s Li tells Inkstone he welcomes competition. Watch our video above to find out more.