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Chinese electric car start-up Nio reveals a new sedan, augmented reality glasses

KEY POINTS
  • Chinese electric car start-up Nio’s second electric sedan, the ET5, is set to begin deliveries in September 2022, CEO William Li said Saturday at the company’s annual “Nio Day” event.
  • Li also announced custom augmented reality glasses for the car that are made by Nreal, a Chinese start-up backed by Nio’s investing arm.
  • On the global front, Nio plans to enter Germany and three other countries in Europe next year, Li said.

BEIJING — Chinese electric car company Nio revealed Saturday a new sedan and custom augmented reality (AR) glasses that reduce the need for in-car screens.

Augmented reality is a technology for imposing digital images over the real, physical world. For cars, the tech can let drivers keep their eyes on the road without having to glance down at a dashboard.

Nio said it partnered with Chinese augmented reality start-up Nreal for the AR glasses that go with its new sedan, the ET5.

The electric car is set to begin deliveries in September 2022, with pre-subsidy prices starting at 328,000 yuan ($51,250) for models that come with a battery. The AR glasses are not included and must be bought separately, according to the company.

Nio CEO William Li announces on Dec. 18, 2021, custom AR glasses made with Chinese start-up Nreal.
Nio CEO William Li announces on Dec. 18, 2021, custom AR glasses made with Chinese start-up Nreal.
Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

The ET5 is Nio’s second sedan to come to market. The company’s first sedan, the ET7, was revealed in January at a higher pre-subsidy starting price of 448,000 yuan, but hasn’t begun deliveries yet.

Deliveries of the ET7 are set to begin on March 28, 2022, William Li, Nio’s founder, chairman and CEO, said Saturday at the company’s annual “Nio Day” event.

TeslaBYDXpeng and other electric car companies in China already sell sedans which have proved popular with locals.

Nio said its deliveries bounced back in November from a low of 3,667 cars in October, bringing the total for the first 11 months of the year to 80,940 vehicles. Its ES6 and EC6 SUVs were among the top 10 new energy SUVs sold in China this year through November, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

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Nio plans to enter Germany

Next year, the electric car company plans to bring its products and services to Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, Li said. By 2025, the company aims to reach users in more than 25 countries and regions, he said.

Nio opened a flagship store in Oslo, Norway, this year and began delivering vehicles to the electric car-friendly country, where Chinese rivals Xpeng and BYD have also shipped cars.

In early November, Li had said on an earnings call the company planned to enter five other countries in Europe next year in addition to Norway.

Nio's ET5 electric sedan offers six options for interior colors, including the seatbelt.
Nio’s ET5 electric sedan offers six options for interior colors, including the seatbelt.
Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

Li told reporters Sunday that he expected Nio wouldn’t begin delivering cars and selling other services in Germany until the latter part of next year. He did not give a specific date.

Li also declined to disclose details on whether Nio, a U.S.-listed company, would offer shares on another stock exchange in the near term.

AR/VR investments

Nio’s investment arm Nio Capital is an investor in Nreal. The custom glasses for the ET5 sedan can project an effective screen size of 201 inches at 6 meters, according to a release.

Nio also announced Saturday that it has jointly developed virtual reality glasses with Nolo, another Chinese start-up backed by Nio Capital. Pricing and other details about availability weren’t disclosed.

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