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China’s Nio Unveils ET9, to Compete With Merc, Porsche

The Nio flagship sedan, introduced at Saturday's annual customer event by Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Nio Inc., will compete with the Panamera series from Porsche AG and the S range from Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

With a starting price of approximately 800,000 yuan ($112,000), deliveries of the four-seater executive vehicle known as ET9 are anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2025. The Model S from Tesla Inc. starts at 698,900 yuan in China, making it more affordable.

During the Nio Day event, William Li, founder and CEO, said that the model will come with Nio's self-developed five-nanometer automotive-grade chip and big cylindrical battery cells. Additionally, it will be able to be charged using a 900 Voltage ultra-fast platform, which may add 255 kilometers (158 miles) to its range in just five minutes.

At this year's event in Xi'an, the city famous for its Terracotta Warriors in northern China, Li announced that NIO ET9 has reached a new level of innovation and technological advancement, thanks to its integration with more than 100 NIO full-stack technologies.

At "Nio Day"—an annual event for corporate partners, customers, and media —Nio unveils its flagship goods and lays out its plans, all in an effort to foster brand loyalty. All of the customers who had placed an order for a vehicle a year prior to manufacturing began receiving complimentary airfare and high-end hotel rooms for the inaugural event in 2017. In 2018, R&B singer Bruno Mars was the featured performer.

Nio also unveiled its next-gen Nio Power Swap stations, a system that can swiftly swap out a dead battery for a fully charged one in under three minutes. The business boasted that their latest model can cut exchanging time in half and work with a variety of brands.

Continuing to invest in infrastructure to alleviate customers' range anxiety, the firm has accomplished its goal of constructing 1,000 power switch stations in 2023 and has committed to establishing a further 1,000 stations in the following year. Additionally, it plans to install 20,000 chargers.

Despite its once-promising status as a leading light in China's electric vehicle business, Nio is now losing money and is considering laying off even more employees, following the elimination of 10% of its workers last month.

A firm funded by Abu Dhabi, CYVN Holdings LLC, infusion of $2.2 billion was agreed upon earlier in December. After the process is complete, CYVN will have the right to select two board members and hold 20.1% of Nio.

Nio will keep promoting efficiency, prioritizing important projects, and markets in a dynamic context, as stated by Li at a media briefing on Sunday, so the investment will not alter the company's current strategies. Earlier this month, he announced that the automaker will join the UAE market in 2019.

Nio President Qin Lihong announced on Sunday that the company is planning to expand into more lower-tier cities in China in order to compete. Despite not being provincial capitals or well developed cities, these places accounted for more over 50% of sales for BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, and Audi AG, according to Qin. Nio plans to be present in every city where these three brands have dealers.

Qin predicted that in the next year or two, sales of Nio's eight existing models will account for the vast majority of the company's income. He made no mention of when new models will be available in 2024.

In the second quarter, the company's gross margin fell to 1%. However, it recovered to 8% in the three months ending September 30th. With current projections, it will only be able to deliver about 159,000 vehicles this year, well short of its original 250,000 target. Market valuation has fallen nearly 40% from August's all-time high of $27.5 billion.

In 2024, the company hopes to cut costs by about 2 billion yuan. The company plans to bring all production in-house and has partnered with local manufacturers including Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. on its capital-intensive battery-swapping business. This might lead to a 10% reduction in production costs.

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