Tesla competitor NIO launches another electric SUV in China
NIO Inc. is introducing its third sport utility vehicle, a streamlined model aimed at spurring demand in China’s slowing electric-car market.
NIO didn’t disclose the price for the electric SUV coupe, which comes with a panoramic-view window and is set to compete against vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and Tesla Inc.’s Model Y. NIO’s existing models are the ES8 and ES6 SUVs, and the EP9 performance car.
“Coupes fall in a niche market in China and it’s really hard to position this kind of product," said Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy AutoForesight. “But if they only aim at selling hundreds of cars a month, it should be fine."
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The unprofitable carmaker is battling an unprecedented slump in Chinese auto sales, including electric vehicles, as the country’s economy cools. The upstart also faces intensifying competition from the likes of Tesla and Daimler AG just as some investors scrutinize its funding situation.
Backed by technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., NIO sought $200 million from founder William Li and a Tencent affiliate -- though hasn’t clarified whether the investment has been completed -- and has also reduced its workforce. U.S. shares of NIO have dropped more than 60% since the company’s initial public offering in New York last year.
By the end of the third quarter, NIO had cut its staff to 7,800 from 9,900 in January. Having burned through more than $5 billion in four years, the company failed in an attempt to get local government funding, according to media reports.
China’s EV sales have slumped for four consecutive months, while the overall auto market is down in 16 of the 17 past months. That’s impacting fundraising for EV startups in China, according to rival XPeng Motor.