Nio may not be a household name yet, but the Chinese electric vehicle company already plans to launch two new brands to target the more affordable end of the EV segment.
The brands will include Firefly to focus on small EVs and Alps for EVs aimed at families.
Firefly is scheduled to launch in Europe as soon as 2025, and Alps will follow sometime after 2025. The information was revealed by Lihong Qin, Nio's president and co-founder, in a press conference last week, Reuters reported.
Nio sells the bulk of its vehicles in China but recently expanded to a handful of European countries. It already offers a diverse range of SUVs, plus a sedan and related wagon. The vehicles are priced at the premium end of the EV segment, in line with vehicles from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
2022 Nio ET7
Nio was once billed as China's Tesla, but its sales have been hurt by Tesla's recent round of price cuts. Nio's sales in 2023 are on track to reach just over 150,000 units, whereas Tesla is on track to reach more than 10 times that figure.
According to Reuters, Nio recently laid off 10% of its workforce and is considering spinning off some of its divisions, its battery manufacturing division among them, in an effort to curb costs.
Nio is still pressing ahead with technology development, including battery swapping, ultra-fast charging, and semi-solid- and solid-state batteries. In one demonstration, the company's ET7 sedan recently drove almost 650 miles in near-freezing temperatures using a prototype semi-solid-state battery with a 150-kwh capacity.
The news comes as Europe's established automakers are struggling to launch affordable EVs onto the market. Thomas Schäfer, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, only weeks ago told staff that the brand is no longer competitive amid massive ongoing cost cuts. VW and other Volkswagen Group brands are already turning to some Chinese automakers for help in EV development, and more partnerships may be required, including potentially with Renault.