Nio celebrated its European launch at the Tempodrom in the heart of Berlin last night. With its three electric car models for the European market, its Nio Home concept that replaces car dealerships and showrooms, and its battery exchange stations and subscription models, the young company convincingly demonstrated that it will be able to revolutionize the emerging European market for electric cars.
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First and foremost on display were, of course, the three Nio models for the European market, two electric sedans, the ET7 and ET5, and an electric SUV, the EL7. All have already been revealed, their specifications have been shown and the names have been changed so as not to anger the German Audi stalwart.
Guests could sit in these luxury vehicles and try out the company’s new 3D augmented reality glasses and multi-speaker surround sound as part of Nio’s mobile lounge concept. The company introduced its Nio Home concept and range of fashion and lifestyle products, many of which are made from recycled or upcycled materials from car production.
The approach taken by the company is very clear. This is a new global era, with a user base interested in sustainability and design. Sustainability thinking seems to be embedded in the company’s approach throughout, which is very much focused on constant user feedback and personal engagement with its customers as part of a larger, international and richer customer base than most. company insists that it is a highly valued community.
Nio Seeds, was presented as a communication platform with inspiring talks and exchanges for the “Nio community”. For the presentation of Seeds, the guests were able to enjoy a talk on sustainability and big data by Forster and Partners, the company founded by Sir Norman Foster, responsible, among many other famous projects, for the renovation and reconstruction of the Berlin Reichstag . Founder and CEO Michael Li tells his staff that he spends at least 30 minutes a day talking to people in the community outside of the company.
The European release had a slightly home-based feel. Not only because of European designers and artists who are engaged in extensive product marketing, Nio Home architecture, but because of the core of the company. Although based in Shanghai, this electric car startup was international from the start. The company’s design center has always been in Munich, Germany, led by Chris Tommersen, the Icelandic-American company’s chief designer, Nio’s technical center is based in Oxford, UK, and the intelligence centers Artificial and IT company are headquartered in San Jose in the USA.
This is reflected in what appears to be the company’s sales target group. Design-savvy international socialites who want to stay flexible, who aren’t locked into property as a status symbol, but rather lifestyle choices, as the company repeated in its keynote presentation, “Flexibility It’s the new cousin.”
Batteries: interchangeable, rechargeable and upgradeable
At the keynote, the chief engineer, Danielo Teobaldi, presented the technical specialties of Nio electric cars. Here, the most unique aspect of the Shanghai-based company’s products is the battery.
Nio batteries can be purchased or rented with the car. Two battery packs, the standard range and the long range, will now be available in Europe. “You can use the standard range for your ride and flexibly upgrade to long range at the power station,” Danielo Teobaldi told guests, speaking of Nio battery exchange stations, one of which is now in Berlin. , near the famous shops of West Berlin. mile, Kurfurstendamm. “Starting next year, the 150 kW version will be available in Europe,” he announced to spontaneous applause from the audience. This is the battery pack that should allow the company’s cars to get close to the 1000km range.
“Each Nio car is a high-performance electric vehicle with a rechargeable, exchangeable and upgradeable battery,” Teobaldi summarized, as the batteries can also be upgraded over the air.
120 battery change stations will be deployed in Europe
This is indeed a unique feature internationally. The batteries are not only interchangeable, but can also be charged with AC and DC chargers, the latter up to 140 kW for ultra-fast charging. In the summer of this year, Nio introduced its state-of-the-art 500 kW DC charger and battery exchange station. Just a few weeks earlier, Nio had announced plans to start producing its own developed battery packs in 2024.
Nio will begin the deployment of its battery exchange stations in Europe. In addition to the two that have already opened in Norway, and the now mentioned station in Berlin, the company plans to open 120 battery exchange stations in Europe by the end of next year. These are already being manufactured in the region at the company’s manufacturing plant in Hungary.
Electric cars by subscription
By the time it got to the nuts and bolts of drivers seizing the actual vehicles in Europe, it became clear that this is a premium brand for wealthy customers. Subscription models start (per month) at €999 in Germany and €1,089 in the Netherlands, SEK 10,899 in Sweden, and DKK 8,499 in Denmark, for example, for the Nio ET5. While ownership is still possible, with the option to rent and upgrade batteries, the subscription model was the focus of this presentation. This is not unique to Nio, and car rental companies are now also switching to these models to allow more people access to electric vehicles with flexible options.
High-tech, but no need to get overwhelmed
Technical delights inside their cars include a small interactive robot with eyes on the vehicle’s dashboards called Nomi, apparently derived from “meet me” as the car’s artificial intelligence will meet and be a companion to the vehicle’s occupants. The whole concept of the incredibly extensive technology in the car, as explained by its Associate Vice President, Head of Product Experience Ted Li, is to keep things simple despite the Banyan intelligent vehicle system’s incredibly complex on-board computing matrix. Technology choices can be made simple by simply taking other users’ preferences into account with their recommendations through the much-hyped Nio community.
Nio Home replaces dealerships and showrooms
Overall, the feeling was that this player is already in Europe as battery changing stations roll out, as customer users have already been using the Nio Home concept in Norway, where Nio has been testing its products. with the electric car-savvy population. The concept of Nio Home is something like a community center for international jet-setters, in a mix between cafe, co-working, shopping and lounge, with only 25% of the space dedicated to the vehicle showroom. Boy. Events such as movie nights and talks are held here, not only open to Nio customers but also to the general public. That should be in the best interest of the customer and to cultivate a sense of ownership.
European design is, of course, an integral part of this concept for Europe, undertaken by the Danish design house Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen, which has already designed the Nio House in Norway, while the Berlin building will be completed by the end of the year. of this year. So far, 80 of these centers are already built and running around the world, most of which are, of course, in China, where Nio has been fiercely testing and perfecting its products with its loops of customer feedback. and constant communication with users.
Overall, the European launch event gave the impression that this new player in the European market offers more than its competitors in the premium sector. Not just the flexibility and upgrades, but a completely new infrastructure with battery swapping, compatible with existing charging infrastructure, even capable of balancing grids when needed. The question is how big this cosmopolitan, design-savvy, sustainability-enthusiastic target group really is, as many European cities of the new generation of sustainability advocates are forgoing cars altogether for even more sustainable modes of transport. So far, unlike Sono Motors, Nio doesn’t seem to be catering to the ride-sharing or car-sharing markets, but with the kind of flexibility the company advocates, this could be just around the corner.
reporting from a live event at the Berlin Tempodrome