Nio unveils ET9 executive EV to take on Panamera

XI’AN (China): Chinese electric carmaker Nio Inc. unveiled a flagship sedan at its annual customer event Saturday, with the vehicle set to take on Porsche AG’s Panamera series and Mercedes-Benz Group AG’s luxury S range.

The four-seater executive sedan dubbed ET9 is expected to start delivery in the first quarter of 2025, with an estimated starting price at around 800,000 yuan (RM521,000). It is more expensive than Tesla Inc.’s Model S, which starts at 698,900 yuan (RM455,000) in China.

The model will be equipped with Nio’s self-developed five-nanometer automotive-grade chip and large cylindrical battery cells, said the company’s founder and chief executive officer William Li at Nio Day, the carmaker’s annual event.

It will also be compatible for a 900 voltage ultra-fast charging platform that could extend its range by 255 kilometers in 5 minutes.

"Integrated with over 100 NIO full-stack technologies, NIO ET9 reaches a new height of innovation and technological development,” Li said at the event, held this year in Xi’an, the northern Chinese city famous for its Terracotta Warriors.

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As part of a company strategy to build brand loyalty, Nio launches its major products and outlines strategy at "Nio Day” - a year-end gathering for corporate partners, customers and media.

For the first event, in 2017, the company paid for flights and luxury hotels for everyone who had ordered a vehicle in the year before production started.

R&B star Bruno Mars headlined the 2018 event.

Nio also presented its latest generation of Nio Power Swap stations, a platform that can quickly replace a depleted battery with a re-charged one in as soon as three minutes.

The newest generation will be compatible with multiple brands and can reduce the overall swapping time by 22%, the company said.

It has completed the target of building 1,000 power swap stations in 2023, and pledged to establish another 1,000 stations in the next year, plus 20,000 chargers, as the company keeps investing in infrastructure to help lessen customers’ range anxiety.

Once considered one of the brightest rising stars in China’s electric vehicle market, Nio has been falling badly short of its sales targets and continues to post losses - forcing it to consider further job cuts after last month eliminating at least 10% of its workforce.

Earlier this week, it signed a deal for a US$2.2 billion cash injection from Abu Dhabi-backed fund CYVN Holdings LLC. Upon completion, CYVN will own a 20.1% stake in Nio and be entitled to nominate two board directors.

The company’s gross margin dropped to as low as 1% in the second quarter before recovering to 8% in the three months through Sept. 30.

It’s on track to deliver around 159,000 cars this year - less than two-thirds its original 250,000 goal. its market value has slumped almost 40% from a recent peak of $27.5 billion in August.

Along with the job cuts, the firm is looking to slash expenses by around 2 billion yuan in 2024.

It has also signed deals to partner with local automakers including Chongqing Changan automobile Co. and Geely automobile Holdings Ltd. on its capital intensive battery-swapping business, and move manufacturing fully in-house, which could help shave 10% off production costs.

Autos Nio