Growing Chinese premium EV brand Nio will make its UK debut late next year. The announcement was made by company founder and CEO William Li at Nio’s launch in Germany recently.

The brand will launch with its mid-sized Nio ET5 saloon, a rival to the Tesla Model 3, and other models more suited in size to the UK market, Li said.

Battery Swap Stations

Nio will introduce battery swap stations in the UK to allow owners to change their batteries in around five minutes, giving the brand a useful selling point if it can install a decent-sized network.

The Nio models for Germany and subsequent European markets are all built on the brand’s new NT2 platform, which combines high-tech software and sensors to give the cars the ability to drive autonomously in certain scenarios, the brand said. No timeframe was given for homologating the cars for low-speed highway hands-free driving in Germany to follow the Mercedes S-Class and the Mercedes EQS. The ET7 features a lidar sensor unit prominently above the windscreen, flanked by two cameras.

Li said Nio is in talks with other brands about using the company’s battery swap platform and has even built prototypes for some car makers, although he didn’t name them.

The company offers a range of battery sizes that fit into the same underfloor space to allow customers to swap in the size they need. An ultra-long range 155kWh version is expected to be added to the battery swap stations in China in the first quarter next year, the company said.

Global Launch

Nio launched its brand globally in 2016 at an event in London but it restricted sales initially to China. The brand’s move to Europe last year started in Norway, where it also built the first battery swap station. Friday’s launch in Berlin marks the brand’s expansion not just in Germany but also Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Deliveries of the ET7 large saloon car will begin in October in Germany, with the EL7 large SUV and ET5 following in March. No prices have been disclosed yet.

Nio House Showcase

The brand has identified a site in London for its signature Nio House plus-sized showroom. The centre will act as both a showcase for its models and a general hang-out space, following the patten of Nio Houses in China, Norway and Germany.

Nio is currently hiring staff for its UK launch, including a brand manager and a sales manager. The overall UK general manager is already hired but no name has been released.

Flexible Arrangements

Cars will be exclusively leased, either for a fixed period or via a more flexible subscription model. This arrangement will enable customers to hand back their vehicles with as little as a month’s notice. The subscription model has proven successful for Chinese brand Lynk & Co in establishing itself in select mainstream European markets.

Nio reported they had sold just under a quarter of a million vehicles as of 30 September. The majority of sales were in China. Sales in Norway stood at around 1000, it said.