The Chinese manufacturer Nio starts as a newcomer in the upper market segment. Among other things, he wants to win customers with the option of changing the battery. The German managing director Ralph Kranz sees the greatest challenge in the general acceptance of e-vehicles.
The Chinese carmaker Nio has big plans. Further models are planned and the number of power-swap stations for mobile battery changing is to be expanded quickly. A conversation with Ralph Kranz, General Manager of Nio Deutschland GmbH, about the challenges in the German market.
Where do you see the biggest challenges for Nio on the German market?
Kranz: First of all, we want to establish the global brand in people's minds. In general, however, the greatest challenge is the basic acceptance of electric vehicles. I think we can do a lot here with our battery swapping stations, the Power Swap Stations (PSS). Here, the vehicle battery can be exchanged for a fully charged battery in around five minutes, in addition to classic fast charging or at the home wall box.
The task now is to expand the network further. We recently entered into a cooperation with EnBW, with whom another 20 power swap stations are planned by the end of 2024. We are currently concentrating primarily on expanding motorways and transit routes because we know that around 80 percent of e-drivers charge at home. In principle, we are open to making our PSS available to other manufacturers.
Do you really think German customers just trade their batteries in like that?
In China, more than 15 million "swaps" have already taken place on over 1300 PSS and, statistically speaking, a battery change takes place there every 1.8 seconds. This shows that the system is accepted and working. In Europe we now have 10,000 changes behind us. We try to recharge the batteries as gently as possible, if possible only with 40 kW. Of course, our cars can also be charged normally. With the key card, users have access to around 55,000 charging points in Germany without needing another card.
How do you intend to make Nio profitable?
We want to further develop the brand and bring it closer to people. It is important to us that we satisfy our customers 100 percent. This includes building up the community, but also the infrastructure with the PSS and the Nio Houses as a kind of meeting place that goes beyond the pure vehicle experience.
We will gradually expand our product portfolio. In the short term, the Nio ET5 will be a smaller mid-range sedan for less than 50,000 euros. We clearly see ourselves as a premium brand and can imagine offering cars there in the long term.