NIO: The Chinese Startup That Takes Tesla Head-On

A Tesla sales and service center is shown in Costa Mesa, California
A Tesla sales and service center is shown in Costa Mesa, California, U.S. June 28, 2018.
(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo)

As the demand for electric vehicles continues to rise over the years, several startups as standing up to challenge the leader of the pack which is Tesla. Among the most prominent of these challenges is NIO, a Chinese startup which was founded just four years ago. The company went public this year and based on market data, the startup is inching closer towards its inspiration and eventual rival: Tesla.

As a startup, NIO is backed by some of the largest tech companies in China. Among its notable investors are Chinese social media giant Tencent and Temasek which is a Singaporean state-owned investment fund.

Recently, through the company's official Weibo account, NIO claimed that the company was able to deliver 8,030 cars. With this claim, NIO is inching closer to winning the battle against its closest Chinese rival Xiaopeng Motors. The latter of the two is also a billion-dollar electric vehicle startup which counts the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as its backer.

NIO and Xiaopeng Motors are currently engaged in a bet which will see the winner receiving a car from the other company. In July, Xiopeng Motors founder He Xiaopeng claimed that no new Chinese electric car maker can deliver 10,000 cars before the end of the year. NIO begged to differ and accepted the challenge. If the latest numbers are to be believed, NIO is well on its way to win the bet.

Despite having several startups working on electric vehicles in China, Tesla remains to be the clear favorite in the market if market data are to be believed. In 2017, Tesla was able to ship 17,670 cars in China. This puts the carmaker among the top 10 sellers of fully electric cars in the country.

Based on market data, Tesla has already sold around 14,000 fully electric cars in the first nine months of the year. However, the trade war between China and the United States have caused Tesla's market performance to dip considerably for the month of September. The company's performance dropped 70 percent compared to its performance last year.

Despite these hurdles, Tesla is positive that it will recover. Many market observers have noted that Tesla should be able to recuperate given the fact that United States President Donald Trump recently announced that he is suspending car tariffs.

NIO chief financial officer Louis Hsief reiterated that the company is well on its way to reaching the 10,000 sales goal. To boost investor confidence, NIO founder Li Bin said that the company has already produced 10,000 units of the company's flagship car, the ES8.

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