NIO’s entry to Europe has been in the company’s plans since at least last year. Called the ‘Marco Polo Project’ at the time, the plan is now coming to fruition with NIO confirming how its initial rollout will look.
It’s very much a case of ensuring the company can walk before it tries to run in what is a fiercely competitive market with more choice than ever. NIO’s choice of Norway makes sense, as it’s a relatively small market, but a very mature one when it comes to EV adoption. As such, Norwegians are far more likely to be open to trying out a new brand, the way it sells and services cars, and that all-important battery swapping capability.
NIO’s first foray into Europe will be in the form of the brand’s flagship car – the ES8 SUV, which was first launched in 2017 and has sold very well in native China ever since. It comes with a 70kWh battery pack for around 310 miles of range and 641bhp thanks to dual motors, giving it sports car-like acceleration, hitting 62 in 4.4 seconds.
Following the ES8 in early 2022 will be the NIO ET7, a saloon that takes the fight directly to the Tesla Model S. It shares the same 641bhp power and 70kWh battery as the ES8 and will also be capable of around 310 miles on a charge. You can read all about it here.
NIO will be bringing its full range of services to Norway, including its Power Swap technology, which enables depleted batteries to be swapped for charged ones in around 180 seconds. Four strategic locations will go online initially. In addition to Power Swap, NIO is developing a supercharger network and will offer customers NIO Power Home – a smart home charging solution.
The company is adopting what it calls an O2O (offline to online) strategy with sales being made via the brand’s website or via a mobile app, and fulfilled in person in ‘lifestyle locations’, of which there will be four, with the flagship space being in Oslo. Repairs and servicing can be undertaken by mobile mechanics, or via a pick-up-and-delivery service.
The NIO app is designed to act as an owner’s user community, through which owners can contribute ideas for the future of the brand and take part in emissions reducing schemes.
NIO's CEO William Li said; "In Europe, Norway is at the forefront of e-mobility and sustainable growth. When combined with the country's strong sense of community and high purchasing power, it is an extremely attractive market for NIO in Europe. There is no doubt that Norway and NIO are a perfect fit."
There’s no word on where NIO will head next, but our assumption is that Norway is being used as a pilot project for the brand. If it finds success here, it will likely roll out to other small but mature EV markets. Whether it can crack larger markets remains to be seen.