New York-listed Chinese EV firm NIO is hiring in Poland, in sign overseas expansion is gathering pace

Asia's Tech News Daily

NIO, the New York-listed carmaker, its first overseas market, announcement for Germany, Xpeng, Li Auto, EV industry, mulling an offshore production base

Shanghai-based Chinese electric vehicle (EV) start-up NIO is hiring a plant manager in Poland, a step that suggests its global ambitions have moved up a gear.

In an advertisement placed on LinkedIn over the weekend, the New York-listed carmaker said it was looking for a professional based in Mazowieckie, the country’s most populous region that is also home to Warsaw, Poland’s capital city. The candidate will be responsible for establishing a plant and building up an operations team.

NIO said it would not comment on the vacancy in Poland or any potential manufacturing facility in the European Union.

“Building a plant abroad is a significant and necessary step for any Chinese EV company seeking to go global,” said Cao Hua, a partner at private-equity firm Unity Asset Management. “Chinese smart EV firms still need to prove that their products can be well received by foreign drivers.”

With its high-end EVs that come fitted with high-performance batteries, sophisticated in-car entertainment systems and driver-assistant technologies, NIO is viewed as presenting the most credible competition to Tesla along with Guangzhou-based Xpeng Motors and Beijing-headquartered Li Auto.

NIO, the New York-listed carmaker, its first overseas market, announcement for Germany, Xpeng, Li Auto, EV industry, mulling an offshore production base

William Li, NIO’s co-founder and CEO, said recently that the EV maker planned to enter five European markets, include Norway and Germany. Photo: Getty Images

Its recruitment in Poland comes less than three weeks after William Li, NIO’s co-founder and CEO, said during a third-quarter earnings call on November 10 that the EV maker planned to enter five European markets, include Norway and Germany, next year.

The announcement that NIO would enter Norway, its first overseas market, was made in May. It said it would sell its ES8 sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in the Nordic country. The ES8 was the first model to be launched by NIO, at the end of 2017 with a starting price of 448,000 yuan.

The announcement for Germany, its second overseas market, was made in September, when Li said the company would launch its ET7 luxury cars in that country by the fourth quarter of 2022.

The ET7, which will have a 70 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery and a driving range of 500 kilometres, is priced at 448,000 yuan (US$69,500) in China. Its extended edition will be powered by a 150kWh battery and is said to have a range of 1,000 kilometres, which would make it the EV with the world’s farthest driving range. Production has yet to start on any variant of the ET7 and NIO has not revealed a price for the extended range yet.

NIO said this month its “battery-as-a-service” (BaaS) model was well received in Europe. BaaS allows customers to buy an EV electric car and subscribe to a separate battery-leasing plan for a fee, which can help lower the upfront cost of the car by about 20 per cent.

Tesla currently has an upper hand in China, where it is the runaway leader, with twice as many monthly deliveries in September, for instance, than the total sales of its three Chinese competitors NIO, Xpeng and Li Auto.

Beijing, however, hopes the Chinese companies will grasp core technologies in the EV industry and come to dominate the sector. Under its Made in China 2025 industrial strategy, it wants China’s top two EV makers to generate 10 per cent of their total sales overseas by 2025, although it did not specify which companies.

In August, Shen Yanan, Li Auto’s president, told the South China Morning Post that the carmaker was mulling an offshore production base – perhaps in Europe – as a stepping stone to the global market. Xpeng also exports in cars to Europe but has yet to unveil its plan to build plants outside the mainland.

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