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Nio CEO: "Electric Cars Are More Profitable Than Tesla"

Nio is currently in the red, but has set itself ambitious goals. In 2030 it want to be one of the five top-selling car manufacturers in the world and measures up with Tesla.

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Nio is one of the Chinese car brands that want to succeed in the European market in the coming years. However, there is still a long way to go until then, because the brand is currently in the red. William Li, CEO of Nio, is nevertheless optimistic in this interview that he gave to German publication Heise Autos: by 2030 he wants to have established the company in the top 5 in the industry. He spoke extensively about Tesla and the difference between him and Tesla's CEO Elon Musk.

Mr. Li, what is the difference between you and Elon Musk?

William Li: That I write my own Facebook posts to communicate directly with our users and not just make a Twitter statement. Besides, I'm the better dancer...

What do you think of Tesla?

Tesla is a respectable car manufacturer and we can learn a lot from them. For example direct sales or how they have trimmed their production for efficiency. But Nio and Tesla are two different companies. Tesla focuses on technology and efficiency. Technology is also important to us, but we focus on the user.

Was Tesla a enabler or obstacle for Nio because Nio is measured against Tesla?

Tesla has played an important role in transforming the automotive industry towards electric mobility. Still, Tesla is under pressure. If they don't improve their products fast enough or don't provide good services, they will quickly be pushed out of the market.

What do you mean by that?

In order to be successful in the automotive industry, you need staying power. This is comparable to running a marathon. You don't win in the first few kilometers, but in the last few. We are at the beginning and will only know in ten years whether we will really be successful.

Why after this period?

There are three technological leaps in ten years and if you manage to be there for all three, it makes a huge difference and makes the difference between success and failure. That is also the reason why we respect the German car manufacturers so much, because they have been successful for many years.

Why is Nio entering the German market now?

Because we are technologically and strategically ready. We want to become a global brand. To achieve that, we need to offer the right products for our customers' needs. Norway was our first stop and now we're coming to Germany, also because we have the right car for it with the ET7, which is based on our new NT 2.0 platform.

What distinguishes Nio from the other car manufacturers?

First of all, we are younger than the others (laughs). But joking aside, there are actually some differentiators. It starts with the fact that our product has been developed for the future. With the ET7, sensors such as the LIDAR radar are clearly visible and the interior follows the concept of mobile living space. We also offer an all-round carefree package with the battery changing stations. We are more than a car manufacturer. We already have a community in China and want to found one in Europe as well.

What can you learn from the German automobile manufacturers?

Compared to these established manufacturers, Nio is still a young and small company. If you look at global sales, they sell 20 times as many cars as we do. The German companies have a lot of experience in developing cars, an established supply chain and a dense dealer network. In short: you know how car building works and we can still learn a lot from you.

Do you still see Nio as a start-up?

Although Nio has been around for almost eight years, we only started delivering cars four years ago. In that sense, we're still pretty young. We're growing fast, but I keep preaching that we keep that start-up mindset, that flexibility.

How do you define premium?

For me, premium is not a static term, but a concept that changes over time. For some it's the quality of the car, for others it's the horsepower. For us, there are currently two aspects: on the one hand, the technology, similar to what is the case with high-tech companies like Apple, and on the other hand, we want to offer our customers additional services. The world is changing very fast, so flexibility is the new premium and that's exactly what we're embracing with our subscription model.

If Nio is to be successful globally, then there is no way around the US market...

We only become active in a market when we have the right product and the right services for this region and we planned to also become active in the USA at the end of 2025. But the US government recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, making it harder for foreign automakers to produce and enter the market. We will therefore monitor developments closely.

What's next for Nio?

SUVs are in high demand at the moment, but we also see demand for smaller cars. That's why there will be a Nio sub-brand with models that are designed for the global mass market and are cheaper.

When will these cars be on the market?

In two years. As a result, the number of cars we sell will increase rapidly and we want to be one of the top five car manufacturers in the world by 2030.

Nio is currently in the red. When will Nio break even?

As a start-up, it takes a while to be profitable. We have invested a great deal in the development of our cars and in the infrastructure, and thus in the future. We have a finely tuned plan to generate profits step by step. It took Tesla 16 years to become profitable. With Nio, this will be the case much faster.

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Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.

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