Shanghai (Gasgoo)- NIO, once dubbed China's Tesla killer, must be the most high-profile one among Chinese EV startups. The Shanghai-based automaker can count several firsts already. It is the first Chinese startup who completed a billion-dollar Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange, started volume production and delivered products to consumers. Besides, it is also one of few startups which have three mass-produced models on sale in China.
Last year, the startup experienced a number of hardships such as car firing incidents, loss of vital senior executive when it urgently required capital assistance, sales plunge and the abortion of a governmental funding and workforce downsizing, making the industry once be lukewarm on NIO’s future.
But, anyhow, the company eventually closed its 2019 with an annual delivery volume of 31,913 units—outperforming the other startups in China, and the launch of its third production model EC6 and the all-new ES8, showing the world it still has much vitality to earn itself a favorable foothold in the country's auto market. Now, let's review NIO's 2019 highlight and lowlights.
NIO's CEO Li Bin transfers 50 million privately-owned shares to build trust fund for users
Li Bin, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO, transfered 50 million shares registered under his name as the capital of a trust fund built for NIO's users, the startup announced on January 24.
Including 189,253 A shares and 49,810,747 C shares, the trust fund was created to deepen the connection between users and NIO, which is in correspondence with the company's original aspiration to be a user-focused enterprise.
Li Bin would still retain the right to vote over the transferred shares and he is going to further discuss with NIO's users about the operation mechanism of the trust fund.
NIO cars completes over 14.8-million-km trip during Chinese New Year holiday
NIO's vehicles completed over 14.8-million-km trip during last Spring Festival, Li Bin, chairman and CEO of the EV startup, said in a letter sent to NIO's EV charging service group on February 19.
He said that during the Chinese New Year holiday, nearly one third of NIO's users took NIO cars on long-distance journey. A local media outlet reported that a total of 13,207 NIO cars had been delivered by the end of January, 2019, which means the average journey for each user on holiday should exceed 1,000km.
The great amount of mileage must be supported by strong EV charging infrastructures and services. Li Bin also revealed that NIO fulfilled 16,600 times of one-click charging and battery swap services during the holiday. In the busiest moment, a battery swap station served up to 22 NIO ES8s per day.
All-new NIO ET Preview makes premiere at Auto Shanghai 2019
At the Auto Shanghai 2019, NIO showed off its all new sedan product lineup with the ET Preview and exhibited its entire NIO Power service solution as well as some cutting-edge technologies such as the 220kW permanent magnet synchronous motor electric drivetrain.
At the same time, the startup also announced the instant opening-up of its “One Click for Power” service to users of other EV brands. Up until now, NIO's “One Click for Power” has been used for over 93,000 times.
By creating the “NIO House|Auto Shanghai”, the startup once again brought its NIO House experience to the grand auto show. The EV maker also showcased such products as the high-performance electric flagship ES8 SUV; the high-performance long-range, intelligent electric ES6 SUV; the ultrafast electric car, the EP9; the NIO EVE Vision car and NIO Formula E Team car, the NIO 004.
Two NIO ES8s catch fire within one month
On April 22, a NIO ES8 SUV caught fire while it was being repaired at an authorized service center in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, NIO said via its official Sina Weibo account. The startup also stated that the fire was quenched immediately and no casualty or property damage happened in the unexpected incident.
Before long, the startup said the firing incident resulted from short circuit after its battery pack was struck in chassis impacts, which was unlike most accidents that were caused by battery quality.
However, after less than one month, another NIO ES8 caught fire at a residential plot in Anting Town, Shanghai where the EV startup is headquartered. No casualties happened as of the reporting time. It is rumored that there are many NIO’s employees living around where the car burned.
NIO gains RMB10 billion worth of investment
NIO got RMB10 billion worth of investment on May 28 by signing a framework agreement with Beijing E-Town International Investment & Development Co.,Ltd (Beijing E-Town Capital), an investment corporation headquartered in Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.
According to the agreement, NIO was going to set up a new entity “NIO China” at Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area and inject specific businesses and assets into the new arm. Meanwhile, Beijing E-Town Capital would plow RMB10 billion worth of cash into “NIO China” through its affiliated entities or jointly with third parties in NIO China. The transaction would grant the Beijing-based investor with a minority equity stake of NIO China.
Moreover, Beijing E-Town Capital would help the entity to build an advance manufacturing base independently or with joint efforts from the third party. The base is set to produce vehicles based on NIO's next-generation platform 2.0 (NP2).
NIO updates Level 2 advanced driving assistant system NIO Pilot
On June 10, NIO announced an update to NIO Pilot, the advanced driving assistant system (ADAS), adding seven features. At the same time, the company announced the NIO OS smart operating system was upgraded to NIO OS 2.0, and unveiled a new user experience (UX) vehicle interaction and user interface (UI) design.
The NIO Pilot update adds 7 features including Highway Pilot, Traffic Jam Pilot, Auto Lane Changing (ALC) and more. The update marks the transformation of NIO Pilot into a comprehensive, level 2 autonomous driving system, offering advanced driving assistance. As a key strategic focus, NIO would continue to develop core technologies, with autonomous driving algorithms, foundational software, ADAS and other technologies being developed jointly by NIO teams in the United States and China.
NIO kicks off delivery of ES6 SUV on June 18
NIO kicked off on June 18 the delivery of its second production model—the NIO ES6 all-electric SUV. On the same day, the first batch of ES6 users from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou received the special-edition ES6s that commemorate the vehicle's premiere.
The ES6 is the world's first SUV that uses an electric all-wheel driving system consisting of a PM motor and an IM Motor. The 160kW PM motor is responsible for medium and low speed daily driving while 240kW induction motor offers great acceleration performance and high speed, producing up to 15,000 rpm per minute. With an optional new 84kWh LC battery pack, the new SUV can show a NEDC-rated range up to 510km. It only takes 4.7 seconds for it to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h.
NIO recalls 4,803 ES8s from June 27
NIO had registered a vehicle recall plan to China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) in accordance with the Provisions on the Administration of the Recall of Defective Auto Products and the Measures for the Implementation of the Regulation on the Administration of the Recall of Defective Auto Products, the EV maker announced on June 27.
From June 27, NIO would recall a total of 4,803 ES8 SUVs that carry the battery packs manufactured between April 2, 2018 and October 19, 2018, the startup said in its plan.
NIO said it completed a voluntary battery recall in July and prioritized battery manufacturing capacity for the recalled vehicles, thus significantly affected its production and delivery results of that month.
NIO kicks off trial operation of 105kW fast chargers in Suzhou
In early July, NIO started the trial operation of a supercharging station in Suzhou, according to local media outlets.
The supercharging station firstly used in the city consists of four fast charging piles, which are also known as NIO Power Charger.
NIO Power is a charging solution that is powered by the mobile internet. The wide-ranging network of charging and battery swap facilities, supported by NIO Cloud, allows NIO’s users to enjoy exclusive power services with a single click.
The NIO Power Charger deployed in Suzhou can charge vehicles at up to 105kW. An ES8 or an ES6 SUV with battery capacity of 70kWh can be charged from 20% to 80% of its battery capacity within 30 minutes. Besides, car owners can control the charging process and check the status via the NIO App.
NIO's automobile tech company registered on July 24
NIO Automobile Technology Co.,Ltd was registered on July 24, according to TianYanCha, a Chinese company information search platform.
The new company involves a total registered capital of RMB7 billion and is located at the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area. NIO's founder Li Bin serves as its legal representative and chairman.
According to the business search platform, the newly-registered company has two shareholders, NIO NextEV Limited and NIO User Enterprise Limited, who subscribe 85.71% and 14.29% stake respectively. Both of them are NIO's wholly-owned subsidiaries in Hong Kong.
Business scope of NIO Automobile Technology Co.,Ltd extends to cover technology development, transfer and consultation about new energy vehicles and related auto parts, bulk sale of auto components, complete vehicle sales as well as import & export of goods and technologies.
NIO has crossover with gaming brand Razer for ES6 special edition
NIO had a crossover with Razer, a world's leading gaming brand, to co-launch the NIO ES6's special edition—the “Night Explorer”—at the 2019 ChinaJoy (China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference) kicking off on August 2, the startup said via its WeChat account.
Compared with the existing ES6, the special edition features some nuances in exterior color, according to the trailer released by NIO. For instance, the new version adopts fluorescent green, the color of Razer's icon, at the front face. Besides, the charcoal black body and green calipers could also be seen from the teaser film.
NIO to cut 1200 staff by end of September
NIO planned to downsize its workforce by at least 1,200 staff by the end of September, Li Bin, founder, chairman and CEO of the high-profile startup revealed on August 22 in an internal e-mail.
NIO would retain roughly 7,500 staff after the cut, said Li Bin. The staff change was treated as part of efforts to further control cost and improve the company's operation efficiency so as to concentrate resources on core businesses.
Staff to be reduced would primarily come from departments like human resources, law and finance, while the plan would have little impact on core operations such as R&D and user services.
NIO to partner with cell maker PLG for creating solid-state-battery-powered prototype
NIO and the Taipei-based solid-state battery cell maker Prologium Corporation (PLG) on August 22 agreed a strategic cooperation on production and application of solid-state batteries, according to PLG's press release.
Both parties reached a series of consensus with creating a prototype powered by PLG's MAB solid-state battery pack as their short-term goal. Besides, they would have more in-depth discussion in terms of the collaboration in manufacturing solid-state battery packs.
Domestic and foreign vehicle makers have introduced plans related to the adoption of solid-state battery for the purpose of enhancing safety and recharge mileage. NIO chose to cooperate with ProLogium due to its high degree of commercialization and the innovative battery pack construction technology developed with regard to the advantage of solid-state battery, PLG said
Baidu Map opens up platform to NIO's valet charging service
From August 29, users are allowed to utilize NIO Power's valet charging service “One Click for Power” through the app Baidu Map, a desktop and mobile mapping solution created by Chinese search engine giant Baidu.
Clicking the button "Charging pile map" on the app's user interface, users will find a hashtag "One Click Charging" at the top-right corner of the screen, which is exactly the access to NIO's "One Click for Power" service.
The charging service will enable an EV to be quickly charged based on the NIO Cloud that is able to offer a proper charging method after analyzing vehicle locations and volumes of NIO's mobile charging vans and charging piles. Users of NIO and other EV brands can enjoy the newly-added function at RMB280 per service.
NIO to issue $200 million worth of convertible notes to its chairman, Tencent
NIO announced on September 5 it would issue and sell convertible notes in an aggregate principal amount of US$200 million to the investors through a private placement.
The investors involved in the latest notes issuance are an affiliate of Tencent and Li Bin, chairman and CEO of NIO. “Tencent and Mr. Li will each subscribe for US$100 million principal amount of the convertible notes, each in two equally split tranches”, said NIO.
The placement of the notes was expected to be completed before the end of September and was to be conducted in two installments. The notes issued in the first tranche will mature in 360 days and will be convertible into Class A ordinary shares (or ADSs) of NIO at a conversion price of US$2.98 per ADS at the holder's option from the 15th day immediately prior to maturity. It bears no interest but requires the startup to pay a premium at 2% of the principal amount at maturity.
Sweeping personnel changes at NIO
A picture of an email about personnel adjustments at NIO that covered more than ten senior management posts was widely spread on the Internet on October 11.
It is said that Shen Feng, previously NIO’s vice president and chairman of quality management committee, would be promoted to executive vice-president (EVP), responsible for quality, procurement and logistics operation. Zhou Xin, vice president since April 2015 and chairman of product committee since 2017, would be appointed as EVP as well, taking charge of product and project management and assisting CEO to coordinate the product R&D team.
It's worth mentioning that Roger Malkusson, the previous director of complete vehicle engineering project, was going to retire. Heading the R&D and launch of over 30 models, he had been in SAAB as an automotive engineer for 14 years and ever worked for General Motors. He was one of the main contributors to the mass production of the NIO ES8.
Louis T. Hsieh resigns as NIO's chief financial officer
On October 28, NIO announced that Mr. Louis T. Hsieh has tendered his resignation as chief financial officer of the Company for personal reasons, effective October 30, 2019. The company had then commenced the search for Mr. Hsieh's replacement and was committed to moving quickly to fill the role.
William Li, NIO's founder, chairman and chief executive officer said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors and management team, I want to thank Louis for his contributions to NIO and wish him all of the best in his future endeavors.”
NIO announces strategic collaboration with Mobileye
NIO announced on Nov. 5 a strategic collaboration with Mobileye, the global leader in the development of vision technology for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving, and an Intel company, on the development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles (AV) for consumer markets in China and other major territories.
As part of the planned cooperation, NIO would engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye, building on Mobileye's level-4 (L4) AV kit. This self-driving system would be the first of its kind, targeting consumer autonomy, engineered for automotive qualification standards, quality, cost, and scale. NIO will mass-produce the system for Mobileye and also integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines for consumer markets and for Mobileye's driverless ride-hailing services. This variant would target initial release in China, with plans to subsequently expand into other global markets.
NIO launches used car services
NIO formally launched the used car service feature on November 4 as the high-profile Chinese startup determines to differentiate itself from peers.
Consumers who buy NIO's pre-owned vehicles will enjoy installation of charging piles, battery swapping, car connectivity and nationwide charging services (up to 12 times per year) free of charge. Besides, users have the right to know the using history of the car they buy.
To ensure safety, a used car available for sales must experience multiple professional tests and inspections. The vehicles that were hit, flooded and burned are forbidden to go on sale, said NIO.
NIO appoints new chief financial officer
NIO announced on November 17 that Mr. Wei Feng would join the company as its new chief financial officer (CFO), effective November 18, 2019.
Mr. Feng brings to NIO nearly 15 years of experience in the automotive industry. Prior to joining NIO, Mr. Feng served as managing director and head of the auto and auto parts research team at China International Capital Corporation where he was recognized with multiple international distinctions, including the best auto and auto parts analyst by both Asiamoney and Institutional Investor's All-China Research Team Poll, and the No. 1 stock picker in the category of automobiles in Asia by Thomson Reuters StarMine Analyst Awards. Prior to China International Capital Corporation, Mr. Feng served as an equity analyst at Everbright Securities Co. Ltd. from 2010 to 2013. Mr. Feng's career also includes more than 5 years’ working experience within the ZF Group where he participated in numerous corporate efforts.
XPENG Motors announces battery charging service cooperation with NIO Power
On December 11, XPENG Motors announced that it had signed an agreement with NIO Power to collaborate on battery charging services, optimizing the charging experience for customers. According to the agreement, Xpeng Motors will gradually connect its charging network and payment processing system with NIO Power’s across the country.
XPENG’s car owners would be able to use NIO Power’s supercharging piles through the Xpeng APP. NIO car owners can also use the XPENG supercharging piles across many 1st and 2nd-tier cities in China.
As a service supplier, NIO Power would also join the XPENG home charging service system, providing XPENG customers with charging pile home installation services.
NIO officially launches the third production model NIO EC6
NIO launched the EC6, the all-new ES8 and its 100kWh battery pack at NIO Day 2019, the annual celebration for the automaker and its friends. For this year, the slogan is “Believe in Better”.
The EC6, deemed as the coupe version of the ES6, is the third production model of NIO, which comes with a panoramic-view window and is expected to compete against such vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and Tesla’s Model Y.
NIO also unveiled the new version of the ES8, with updates in exterior, interior, power, range and intelligent feature. Featuring a 160kW permanent magnet motor and a 240kW induction motor with an intelligent electric all-wheel-drive system, the all-new ES8 holds up to 544hp and 725Nm under the hood, boasting high performance and long range.The range options have been improved to 415 km (70kWh battery) and 580 km (100kWh battery). With 7 color options, the new model has a price range from RMB468,000 (about 66,901 dollars )to RMB624,000 (about 89,201 dollars). The new vehicle will be delivered from April, 2020.
NIO Capital's US dollar fund closes first fundraising of over $200 million
NIO Capital, an investment firm founded by leading Chinese EV maker NIO, announced on December 30 its US dollar fund (Eve ONE L.P.) had completed the first fundraising with over $200 million collected from a number of world's leading investors.
The investors were from a variety of blue-chip investment firms and industrial funds, including sovereign wealth funds, overseas pension funds, foreign insurance companies, fund of funds (FoF), multinational corporations and family foundations, said NIO Capital. The money raised had been used to invest in several leading startups focusing on automobile, energy and logistics.
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