Electric vehicle (EV) maker, NIO, has announced plans to expand outside of China. The Tesla rival announced it would start deliveries to Norway by September 2020.
NIO joins fellow Chinese EV manufacturer, Xpeng, in Norway, a nation that has more EVs per capita than any other country.
The Shanghai-based firm confirmed it will launch its luxury ES8 SUV in September and the ET7 sedan next year.
In late April, NIO CEO, William Li, explained the decision to expand into Norway first, citing their excellent EV track record and early support as major contributors in NIO’s final choice.
Last year, more than half (54.3%) of all motor vehicles sold in Norway were battery-electric, a figure that grew from 42% the previous year.
The two parties formed a strategic partnership with the Norwegian EV Association in 2018 and received what it described as “critical support” from Norges Bank during NIO’s IPO in the same year.
Norway is already home to many EV players including Volkswagen, Audi, Tesla and Xpeng.
Xpeng shipped 100 vehicles to Norway in December, while the Nissan Leaf, Audi e-Tron and Tesla’s Model 3 have enjoyed good market share since 2018 and have been three of the nation’s top-selling new vehicles since then, according to the Norwegian Road Federation.
NIO intends to build a flagship store or ‘NIO House’ in Oslo, followed by three more outlets in other major population hubs closer to 2022. The firm will also build four battery swapping stations in Oslo and some in Trondheim, Kristiansand and Bergen.
Battery swapping stations have long been thought of as a means to circumnavigate costly battery prices by EV manufacturers, but have largely fallen out of favour in recent times.
Despite lower upfront costs for batteryless EVs, battery swapping has not impressed some of NIO’s competitors. Tesla tested battery swapping services in 2015 but subsequently shelved the idea after a lukewarm reception.
However, NIO vice-president of power management, Shen Fei, believes that battery swapping services will play a significant role in the future of the EV market, saying that a large proportion of NIO drivers listed battery swapping services as the reason they chose the brand. The NIO VP said that battery swapping was “core” to the company’s competitiveness.
NIO will expand into four more European countries this year, after the conclusion of the Norway launch, according to Automotive News Europe.