Nio is taking a page from the Tesla playbook by opening a showroom in the heart of the trendiest upscale shopping district in Oslo, Norway. In 2016, Tesla opened a similar showroom smack in the middle of Martin Place, the most desirable shopping address in Sydney, Australia.
Usually, car dealers like to congregate out in the suburbs where land is cheap, but there is a symbiotic relationship between retailers who locate their stores in the most desirable shopping locations. The luster of one rubs off on all the others. For many, a new car is an aspirational purchase. Our cars define who we are and seeing them on display in an upscale location helps burnish their allure.
The new 1,700 square meter Nio showroom will occupy two floors in Karl Johans gate, the central corridor in downtown Oslo that connects the main railroad station and the Royal Palace. It is next door to the fashionable Grand Hotel and will include a bar, a café, offices, and meeting rooms. In the middle of all that, several Nio cars will be on display according to Elbil, the Norwegian electric car association.
Speaking to local news outlet Bilbransje24, Marius Hayler, the head of operations for Nio in Norway, said “We are about to open our first showroom in Norway in September. The showroom at Karl Johan in Oslo will be the first and largest in the country, and will form a template for how Nio will be represented in Norway.” With its favorable government policies for electric cars, Norway is attracting attention from other Chinese electric vehicle manufaturers such as Polestar, Xpeng, MG, and Maxus. BYD and Hongqi are also planning to extend their presence into Norway soon.
At present, Nio has three SUV models available — the EC6, ES6, and ES8 — and has recently launched the ET7, a large sedan with advanced self-driving technology. Nio is working with Mobileye and NVIDIA on its Aquilla self-driving system. According to Inside EVs, the suite of sensors includes 11 8-megapixel high resolution cameras, 1 ultra long range high resolution LIDAR, 5 millimeter wave radar units, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 2 high precision positioning units. 4 Orin supercomputer chips from NVIDIA can perform up to 1,016 tera operations per second (TOPS).
“We will compete in the premium segment against well-established electric car manufacturers. And already in the second half of the year, we will be able to launch the cars on the European market,” Hui Zhang, vice president of operations for Nio in Europe, tells Elbil. The ET7 is expected to appear in markets outside of China later this year.
Battery As A Service & Battery Swapping
Nio is a strong proponent of battery as a service programs as well as battery swapping. The first allows a customer to purchase a car but lease the battery separately, lowering the cost of driving an electric car considerably while giving drivers who are worried about battery degradation peace of mind. If the battery fails, it is the leasing company’s problem, not the owner’s.
Nio also offers battery swapping as an alternative to recharging. Simply pull into one of its automated swap stations and drive out in less than 3 minutes with a fully charged battery pack. This concept is virtually unknown in the US, but NIO has now completed more than 2 million battery swaps in China. The program removes another concern for drivers — obsolescence — since the battery swapped in is always the latest spec available. Nio says it will introduce a 150 kWh battery pack in 2022, which could power a vehicle for up to 1000 miles using the NEDC standard. You need to deduct about a third for the approximate EPA equivalent, but that’s still an impressive amount of range.
The combination of battery swapping and leasing means a driver could choose to upgrade to a higher capacity, more expensive battery when contemplating a long journey and switch back to a smaller, less expensive battery when less range is needed. It’s an intriguing idea that could appeal to a lot of drivers. In China, Nio also offers a mobile battery charging service that comes to the car rather the other way around. There is no word whether leasing and battery swapping will be offered in the Norwegian market, but Zhang says the company is thinking about offering mobile battery charging in Europe.
A tip of the CleanTechnica hat to our Norwegian bureau chief, Are Hansen.