CEO confirms NIO is developing its own phones and names Apple as a potential rival

Although NIO CEO William Li recently admitted that the company is still in the research phase, he confirmed that the Chinese automaker is exploring production of its own phones. By combining technology with humanity, NIO hopes to provide a holistic system for consumers’ daily lives – much like Apple, which NIO’s CEO sees as a potential rival in the future.

NIO ($NIO) is an electric vehicle automaker founded in China in 2014. Since then, it has quickly established itself as one of the leading electrified brands, starting with its ES8, ES6 and EC6 range of SUVs.

These models have since been joined by NIO’s first sedan, the ET7, which began its first deliveries in China this week. With a second sedan called the ET5 already on the way, NIO continued to expand to other markets outside of China, such as Norway and Germany.

With sub-brands such as NIO House membership clubs, NIO Power charging infrastructure and NIO Life products, the Chinese automaker is already more than a premium car brand. It’s intentional and, according to NIO’s CEO, it has no intention of slowing down its expansion to become a household brand.

In fact, the company plans to use its experience in technology to create an even larger and more holistic experience for its customers, which could soon include mobile phones paired with NIO electric vehicles – a kind of reverse strategy of the approach. that Apple is currently adopting.

A fake render of a potential Apple Car

Will NIO drivers soon have a NIO phone to connect?

According to a recent Chinese media report sinaNIO CEO William Li spoke candidly on a local talk show about the automaker’s other potential ventures, as well as some hurdles ahead.

First, let’s start with phones. As CnEVPost points out, rumors that NIO could design and manufacture its own mobile phones have been circulating a lot lately, without any confirmation or denial from the automaker.

During the talk show, Li admitted publicly for the first time that NIO was exploring its own phones, although NIO remains in the research stage at this point. Li went on to say that the decision to study the phone industry was driven by the voices of NIO customers, who want to see a phone that connects better to cars.

That is, NIO is less focused on commercial success with its phones to compete with, I don’t know, Apple maybe? Instead, the decision will be based on whether NIO drivers want a holistic branded phone and whether it can really improve their experience as an EV owner. It’s not an easy task either.

Xiaomi who? NIO names Apple as its biggest potential rival

The CEO of NIO said that although its latest EV platform is equipped with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, Apple does not offer an open interface. This means that NIO’s development team will be responsible for studying and mastering the ins and outs of phones, car-centric smart devices and even wearables to ensure seamless and efficient connections with its vehicles. Li clarified:

Think about it, if by 2025 an Apple model is released and 60% or more of NIO users are using Apple phones, NIO has no defense. If NIO doesn’t do anything today to prepare, it won’t be fun then.

So, NIO is actually preparing for a possible Apple Car, although its research efforts remain exploratory at this point. Yet NIO and its CEO have the foresight to recognize the threat of a potential Apple Car despite its long-documented lack of materialization.

During that same TV appearance, William Li was so bold to say that the measures mentioned above are part of NIO’s strategy to help soften the blow of potential “shockwaves” that an Apple Car could bring. at the market.

Other tech companies are also trying their hand at electric vehicles, especially in China, and they’re apparently much more advanced than Apple, but NIO doesn’t see them as a threat. Chinese companies like Foxconn and Baidu are already involved in making electric vehicles, while smartphone giant Xiaomi has launched its own automotive division and is building a factory capable of producing 300,000 electric vehicles a year.

However, CnEVPost points out that Xiaomi’s electric vehicles will be aimed at the mid to high-end market when they arrive in 2024, priced between 150,000 RMB ($23,650) and 200,000 RMB ($31,550). Even its most expensive model sits below 300,000 RMB ($47,300). NIO’s cheapest model, the ES6, meanwhile, starts at 358,000 RMB ($56,500). Li talked about these companies as competitors…or not:

As with many other new entrants we are watching, and they may not be in direct competition with the NIO brand.

Apple, on the other hand, could be a major contender according to NIO’s CEO, citing the company’s user ecosystem and brand power as potential tricks up its sleeve. Li shared a similar sentiment in January 2021:

It’s no secret that Apple builds cars, and the capabilities, funding, and technology perspective for smart cars are enough for Apple. We have the same direction, so we can be both teammates and rivals.

So far, Apple is pursuing 15 years of development on its electric car, with no clear signs of evolutionary progress. Meanwhile, NIO continues to release new models, expand into new markets, and explore new technologies like phones.

While an Apple Car isn’t imminent by any means, it still makes a lot of business sense in a growing EV and IoT landscape. Believe that if Apple finally delivers its own electric vehicle, NIO will be ready for some friendly competition.

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