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27,000% growth: Meet Tesla’s Chinese challenger

·3-min read
Nio SUVs at the company's production facility in Hefei, China, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)
Nio SUVs at the company's production facility in Hefei, China, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

When it comes to electric vehicle manufacturers, Tesla is the global household name that instantly jumps to mind.

But NIO (NYSE:NIO), a Shanghai-headquartered company, is keen to challenge that title.

Since it first listed on Wall Street’s Nasdaq on 9 October 2018, its stock price has grown from US $6 to US $53.51.

In just 2020 alone, its stock price rose by 1,112 per cent and in the third quarter of 2020 announced US $666.66 million in company revenue.

On trading platform eToro, NIO was 2020’s most-traded stock, recording eye-watering year-on-year growth of 27,190 per cent.

It was miles ahead of runner-up Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which recorded a rise of 2,956 per cent.

Never heard of the company before? You’re not alone; here’s a bit more about them.

Nio, Tesla’s Chinese challenger

The Chinese automobile manufacturer was founded in 2014 and is arguably best-known for being one of the biggest challengers of Tesla.

It was initially called NextCar, but changed its name to NIO in mid-2017, and states on its website that its name and logo means ‘Blue Sky Coming’.

“The top is about the sky, openness, vision, the future. The bottom part is about the earth, direction, action and forward momentum.”

“Blue Sky Coming is our guiding philosophy and stands for our commitment to a brighter tomorrow.”

NIO’s website indicates its company mission is to help people feel excited about owning a car again, and to do that sustainably.

Not only that, but the company dabbles in artificial intelligence, too, and wants to use this technology to create self-driving vehicles.

“In the past, cars gave people the freedom of mobility. In the future, cars will go one step further and free people from driving, giving them the freedom of time. It’s a future we’re excited to shape.”

It raised US $1 billion in its IPO and also set a new Guiness World Record for reaching the highest altitude in an electric car (18,751 feet atop Tibet’s Purog Kangri glacier).

The company also has offices in Chinese cities Hefei and Beijing, as well as San Jose, Oxford, and Munich.

NIO has also been involved in the FIA Formula E Championship, an electric car racing competition, for years.

The EV trend

According to Business Insider, China is seeing huge demand for electric vehicles, with US investment firm Wedbush expecting EV sales to double in the country for the next couple of years.

The popularity of EVs are a trend that has been growing for years. Although it’s still a fairly small take-up in Australia, with around 20,000 driving on Aussie roads, the number of models available to Australians is set to double this year, according to The Driven.

Electric Vehicle Council’s annual report found EV sales tripled in 2019. However, the nation’s electric vehicle industry has been stymied by a lack of government policy, said the Council’s CEO Behyad Jafari.

“A big challenge for Australia is that every other developed country has vehicle standards and EV policies in place,” Jafari told Guardian Australia.

“We have repeatedly heard from car companies that they were planning to bring vehicles here, but Australia doesn’t have that policy support.”

The Morrison government currently has no strategy for the EV sector, though the ABC leaked a draft of the 'Future Fuels Strategy' document which was found to contain no financial incentives to help encourage uptake of EVs.

A long-standing shift in concern for and appreciation of the environment have also seen consumer behaviours shift in favour of more sustainable products.

China is by far the biggest market for EVs, followed by Europe and the United States.

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