NIO has been clear with its brand identity since it launched: we sell expensive, premium-class electric vehicles that are quite large, high tech, fancy, and did we say expensive? Its sales have been quite good, considering its young age and its vehicles’ high cost, but it’s now making moves and aiming much higher. Like Tesla did when it launched the Model 3, NIO is trying to reach a big new swath of the market by selling a somewhat smaller and cheaper car. Initial reactions seem to imply it is going to be a huge success.
Remember when MIC Tesla Model 3 hit the stores in China back in late 2019. @NIOGlobal Is having this kind of moment but even bigger!
— Jay in Shanghai 电动 Jay (@JayinShanghai) September 10, 2022
“Jay in Shanghai” has historically been a big Tesla enthusiast who has tracked Tesla’s growth, development, and consumer response. He’s a Tesla Model S owner and founder of Tesla Expat Owners Group. He is a serious Tesla lover. So, seeing him say what he said in that tweet above — “Remember when [Made-in-China] Tesla Model 3 hit the stores in China back in late 2019. [NIO] is having this kind of moment but even bigger!” — I was not only a bit surprised but also impressed much more than I would have been from seeing such claims or such a tweet from almost anyone else on Twitter. This is seemingly a really big deal and could be a marker in the Chinese EV market.
I can’t tell from the pictures that the consumer interest looks larger, but it definitely looks similar. And I’ll go by the word of the local experts. To try to get a sense of how this compared to other model reveals from NIO, I asked “Can you say whether or not other NIO models had this kind of reception/interest on arrival?” Another Chinese EV enthusiast, “ChinaDriven,” responded, “No not to this level. The ET7 garnered quite a bit of attention, but the attention the ET5 is gaining seems to be substantially more. I assume the ET7 pricing kept some from considering. The ET5 is obviously more obtainable for many more people.”
The ET5’s starting price is still not for the mass mass markets. But it’s in the Tesla Model 3 (and XPeng P7) range. The starting price is ¥328000 (~$47,354 USD), compared to ¥448,000 ($64,678) for the NIO ET7. Again, this is like a Model 3 versus a Model S, and I think we all know how much bigger the customer reception to the Model 3 was around the world than to the Model S.
Another commenter added, “When something is 50% cheaper, there aren’t just double the amount of customers. It is more like ten or twenty times the amount of customers.”
The ET5 definitely reminds one of the Tesla Model 3, but it also has its own features and design. Overall, it’s a super compelling looking EV, and one I wish I had the chance to test drive.
It’s interesting that NIO includes a small screen behind the steering wheel. The lack of such a screen is something that many have complained about regarding the Model 3 — not to say it has prevented millions upon millions of people from buying the Model 3 and being extremely happy with it (myself included), but it has been a persistent issue of critique — and it’s noteworthy the more expensive Model S includes such a screen. NIO must have been paying attention to consumer chatter on this matter. The other thing that stands out right away is the little cute assistant thingie on the dash. That’s cute.
It took a little bit of closer looking, but I find it interesting that NIO placed the phone wireless charger spot on the left and put both cupholders on the right in the center console. I’ve never seen that before, but I love the idea! It’s easy enough to reach over to a cup, but makes it easier to grab your phone without having to navigate around a large water bottle or hot coffee cup.
NIO sales have been up tremendously year over year since its birth. That’s easier when you’re at a small scale, but it’s impressive nonetheless. January through August of 2022, its sales were up 28%, but in August, NIO sales were up 82%.
From its 10,677 deliveries in August, we don’t have a model breakdown, but NIO does share the following data:
- 7,551 smart electric SUVs (aka SUVs)
- 3,126 smart electric sedans (aka cars) — including 398 of the new ES7.
At that rate, NIO is headed toward sales of more than 120,000 vehicles a year, but it is constantly growing, so you have to expect much more than that a year from now. (And note that NIO just reached 200,000 cumulative vehicle deliveries in June.) Furthermore, with the ET5 arriving this month and seeing the consumer response in Shanghai, China, one has to wonder: How high can NIO go?
It seems to me that with some time to ramp up, there’s no reason why NIO shouldn’t reach half a million vehicles a year, especially when you throw in some wicked fast EV charging and innovative battery swapping. However, there’s a big wildcard or two as well. NIO has started entering the European market, including launching a European factory. As I wrote at the beginning of August, NIO entered the Norwegian market last year, and the next European markets it will be entering next include Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark — all in the second half of this year. NIO also intends to enter the US market in 2025. If NIO can do well in Europe and the USA, it can reach new heights, and half a million vehicles a year could end up being an unrealistically bearish forecast that is laughable by the end of the decade. We will see.
What we know for now is that NIO is doing well in China and is seeing huge consumer interest in its new ET5 semi-affordable smart electric sedan. We look forward to seeing the sales results!
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