Chinese electric car maker Nio Inc. is acquiring traditional gasoline-powered luxury automakers from BMW to Audi as it launched its first electric sedan on Saturday as it seeks to capture a larger share of the world’s largest auto market. The launch of the ET7 sedan, at an event in the western city of Chengdu, came just as rival Tesla was starting to sell its China-made Model Y SUV to the Chinese market. Nio aims to expand its line to draw in more customers.
In the Chinese passenger car market, both sedans and SUVs account for about 46% of total sales. CEO William Lee said Nio’s new battery technology will give the ET7 sedan a driving range of more than 1,000 km (621 miles) between charges.
The starting price for the ET7 sedan will start at 378,000 yuan ($ 58,378) for a car without a battery, one of the most expensive components in an electric vehicle, which can then be rented from the company. With the battery, the price starts at 448,000 yuan. Lee said in an interview that ET7’s target competitors are the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars.
Lee said it was “reasonable” for Nio to sell a similar quantity of ET7 sedans to BMW 5 Series sedans in China in the future, but did not provide details on the timing. The price of the BMW 5 Series starts at 426,900 yuan and BMW sells more than 10,000 of them per month in China.
ET7 sedan will be equipped with lidar sensors, which help the vehicle perceive its surroundings and are often found in driverless cars, to aid drivers – a technology that Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk has rejected. The California automaker, which sells its Shanghai-made Model 3 sedans, has just started selling its Model Y cars with a starting price of 339,900 yuan. Cameras are used to assist the driver.
Nio, which delivered 43,728 cars last year, features a market capitalization of quite $ 92 billion, outperforming traditional automakers Daimler AG and General Motors Co. Investors have invested billions of dollars in the development of electric cars. “It’s not a bad thing” when asked about the company’s high market value, Lee said, but added that Nio is still a relatively small company compared to incumbents like BMW in terms of sales volume. It currently sells three SUV models that were built at a car plant in Hefei, eastern China.
On Thursday, Nio’s rival Xpeng Inc announced plans to introduce a new sedan model. It currently features a sedan and an SUV in its lineup.