NIO, the leading Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, is set to expand its market presence in Europe with a new range of budget-friendly compact cars, which will be sold under a different brand name. To achieve this goal, the company is currently developing a sub-brand, codenamed Firefly, which is expected to launch in 2024. According to reports, the Firefly brand’s first model will be an affordable hatchback with a starting price of under €30,000 ($33,290). One of the main features of this car is its battery-swapping capabilities, which will enable drivers to replace a depleted battery pack with a fully charged one in just five minutes. This innovation is aimed at addressing one of the main concerns of EV owners, namely, the time it takes to recharge their vehicle’s battery.
NIO’s decision to launch a budget-friendly sub-brand is a strategic move that seeks to tap into the growing demand for affordable EVs in the European market. The company has already established itself as a premium EV brand with its current lineup of high-end models, but it recognizes the need to offer a more affordable option to attract a wider customer base. By launching the Firefly brand, NIO hopes to build on its initial success in Europe and cement its position as a leading player in the global EV market. The move is also likely to put pressure on other automakers to develop more affordable EVs to remain competitive in an increasingly crowded market.
Demand in Europe
When asked about NIO’s plans for the European market, NIO Group CEO William Li highlighted the higher demand for smaller vehicles in Europe. He acknowledged that the proportion of the battery cost in compact cars is typically higher than in other models, but noted that this is a universal challenge faced by all automakers producing compact models for the European market.
However, Li expressed confidence that NIO could outcompete its rivals by leveraging its innovative battery-swapping service. NIO aims to have 1,000 swap stations outside China by the end of 2025, which would enable drivers to replace their depleted battery pack with a fully charged one in just a matter of minutes. According to Li, NIO’s competitiveness in the European market will depend on its ability to offer superior product features and services, such as its Power Grid infrastructure and other related services. By providing an overall better user experience for European customers, Li believes that NIO can establish itself as a major player in the European EV market.
ET5 Wagon launch
The Chinese electric vehicle (EV) giant, is set to introduce its first European model, the ET5 wagon, later this year. The vehicle has been designed keeping in mind the European buyer’s preferences and will come with a choice of three battery sizes: 75 kWh, 100 kWh, or 150 kWh. The ET5 wagon will be launched first in continental Europe, followed by China a few months later. The company is hoping to attract European customers with its advanced features and innovative battery-swapping service.
The upcoming NIO ET5 Shooting Brake is expected to utilize the same powertrain as the sedan version, with all-wheel drive and a total power output of 150 kW at the front and 210 kW at the rear. Additionally, the car is set to feature an electrically retractable trailer coupling, with a towing capacity of up to 1.4 tonnes. While earlier statements from NIO’s management suggested that the ET5 Shooting Brake would debut in Europe in the near future, it appears that the company may have changed its plans. In January, it was stated that the European market would receive the Shooting Brake version first, due to the high demand for station wagons in the region. However, the success of the Zeekr 001 shooting brake in China may have influenced NIO’s decision to launch the ET5 Shooting Brake in the Chinese market first.