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Nio: The Anti-Detroit Hits the Accelerator

China’s answer to Tesla has leveraged government support to position itself as the next disruptor of the global auto industry.
Nio premium EVs China Tesla battery swapping

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By Bolaji Ojo

[Editor’s note: This is the latest in our series examining China’s ascendant electric vehicle sector. We examine key players, their strategies and how China has come to dominate EV manufacturing, challenging Tesla and leaving established carmakers in the dust.]

What’s at stake?
Nio Inc. aspires to be the “Tesla of China.” While the American carmaker expects customers to sort out electric-vehicle charging, Nio is more hands-on by offering swappable batteries and batteries as a service. Nio and China hope to corner the EV/AV market via a combination of software and services rather than a mere product—no matter how groundbreaking. Will this expansive strategy succeed?

Nio Inc. makes electric vehicles. Just like Ford, GM and their European and Japanese counterparts. But that may be the Chinese manufacturer’s only similarity with Western competitors. Beyond making premium EVs, Nio is also emblematic of an innovative and increasingly high-quality Chinese automotive industry that carries enormous implications for the global automotive market.

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