Tesla is the biggest electric vehicle maker, with almost a million vehicles shipped in 2020. However, Tesla is getting competition from other EV makers, including other startups. One of the startups is NIO, a Chinese company making a splash in the EV segment.
Given NIO’s recent performance, is it giving big competition to Tesla?
With two factories outside of the US, Tesla is strengthening its presence globally. For September 2021, Tesla’s Model 3 topped the list of car registration in Europe, with 24,512 units. It was the first time an electric car ever came first.
The Tesla Model Y came second in the same month in the battery-electric category, with 8,926 units.
Over in China, where Tesla started production in Shanghai about two years ago, Tesla enjoyed record sales as well, with 56,006 made-in-china (MIC) units of both the Model 3 and Model Y moved. 3,853 units were exported from the Asian country.
Competing with Tesla in China is a raft of new entrants into the automobile world. NIO is one of the most prominent examples, with some industry watchers referring to it as one of the companies to watch for in the EV space.
NIO was founded by William Li in 2014, launched its first volume electric vehicle, the ES8, in December 2017, and started making deliveries in June 2018. It reached its 100,000th car milestone in April 2021, less than three years after starting production. This was a remarkable feat as the company had to deal with a financial crisis and COVID-19 challenges.
While NIO was celebrating its 100,000th car, Tesla had already gone past the 1.5 million mark globally. However, the American company had an almost eight-year head start.
Apart from the ES8, NIO makes the ES6 and EC6 models.
NIO recorded its highest monthly sales in September 2021, moving 10,628 units, representing a 126% increase year-on-year. Demand was so high that NIO reportedly had to sell the cars in its showroom! The ES6 accounted for 5,260 units while the EC6 sold 3,390.
The rest was made up of the ES8.
For October, NIO experienced a slump in deliveries, selling only 3,667 units, but the dip was temporary, as the company was retooling its only production factory.
While these numbers are far from Tesla territory, the American company has enough reason to glance over its shoulders. For example, NIO’s factory will double its production capacity to almost a quarter of a million next year.
NIO also has an answer for Tesla’s prevalent Superchargers with its own battery swapping stations in China. It allows NIO drivers to drive away with a full battery in about five minutes. It has also found acceptance for its battery-as-a-service scheme, whereby buyers pay a monthly fee for the battery instead of folding the battery cost into the sticker price.
Tesla is also facing competition from NIO in Europe as the Chinese company seeks to expand out of its home country. It opened its first NIO House in Oslo, where it sells the ES8 SUV. It has also opened its first battery-swapping station in the country, with 19 others to come before the end of 2022.
There is little doubt that NIO is one of the few companies that can offer long-term competition to Tesla in the electric vehicle industry.