Former WeWork China executive Ai Tiecheng joined electric vehicle startup Nio as a vice president of new business initiatives, reporting directly to CEO Li Bin.
Ai will be in charge of Nio’s new, more affordable sub-brand set to be launched by the first half of 2022, a source told 36Kr. Ai is a good friend of Nio co-founder and president Qin Lihong. He previously worked as a vice president of marketing at Disney in Shanghai.
The independent company is expected to cover mid-tier and low-end EV segments with vehicles priced between RMB 150,000 to RMB 250,000 (USD 23,200–38,700), while another source told 36Kr that Li Bin took into account the success of Wuling’s Hongguang mini EV, which costs around RMB 30,000 (USD 4,600). The new brand, which is rumored to be named Alps, is already recruiting talent, while Nio has not commented on the new brand. It will use Nio’s battery swapping technology, but be separate from Nio in terms of sales channels, facilities, and online communities. It will also have its own app.
So far, Nio has carved out a foothold in the premium EV segment. “As of the end of April, Nio delivered 102,803 cars with an average price of RMB 434,700 (USD 67,300), which results in a higher average selling price compared to BMW, Audi, and Tesla,” CEO Li Bin said at an event in May.
“There is not that much overlap between people who spend RMB 400,000 to buy a car and those who spend RMB 200,000,” an auto industry expert told 36Kr. But Nio’s more affordable initiative aims to help the company boost sales volume, after being overtaken by Li Auto in June.
Competition between Chinese EV startups continues to intensify as production scale increases across the sector. Li Auto aims to sell 1.6 million cars in 2025, while also dropping its price point to RMB 150,000 (USD 23,200) from the RMB 338,000 (USD 52,300) price tag on its Li One model.
Deep-pocketed tech giants are joining the EV race. Xiaomi is planning on developing an EV within three years, with a target to sell 100,000 vehicles in its first year. Companies of all stripes are eager to consolidate their position before rivals’ cars make it to the market.
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KrASIA Connection features translated and adapted content published by 36Kr. This article was originally written by Li Qin for 36Kr.