There are some major electric vehicle-only automakers in China, but Tesla is arguably the only major global electric vehicle-only automaker as establish automakers are still attempting to protect their gas-powered car business.
Now there are some new EV startups who have similar ambitions as Tesla and NIO is coming up at the top of the list as it attempts to raise $1.3 billion to finance those ambitions.
As we previously reported, NIO is presenting itself as a global EV company, but it is very much based in China, where most of its operations are right now and the only market where its first vehicle is available: the NIO ES8, an all-electric SUV.
It added to the over $1 billion that the relatively young company claimed to have raised over the past few years, including significant investments from Chinese giant Tencent, which has also invested in Tesla.
Earlier this month, we reported about the company’s intentions to go public in the US, but now they have officially filed to register 160 million shares at $6.25 to $8.25 each, which would result in up to $1.3 million in new capital and valuation that could reach $8.5 billion.
They plan to use the money to ramp up production of their current ES8 and launch new vehicles in China first and then globally.
In the filling, NIO is making it quite clear that they are going after Tesla.
They often mention the company by name when talking about their competition:
“The China automotive market is highly competitive. We have strategically entered into this market in the premium EV segment and we expect this segment will become more competitive in the future as additional players enter into this segment. We compete with international competitors, including Tesla. Our vehicles also compete with ICE vehicles in the premium segment.”
Like Tesla and unlike many established automakers, NIO is putting a lot of emphasis on EV infrastructure and operating their own service centers and charging networks.
We recently reported on NIO’s ambitious infrastructure plans, which includes things like mobile charging stations inside electric vans, several electric car service centers, and battery swap stations.
They even opened their first service center right next to Tesla’s in Beijing.
NIO is going on tour to find investors for the IPO and the shares are expected to be listed in the next 2 weeks.
Even after the IPO, CEO Bin Li and Tencent will retain control over the company through voting shares with each owning about 14.5% and 12.9% of the overall value of the company.
I think NIO is emerging as the clear next major electric-only automaker.
Unlike other well-funded EV startups, they already have a vehicle in production and they have delivered over 1,000 units.
Now they are about to raise about $1.3 billion, which will make them one of the most cash-rich EV startups.
It could enable them to do great things and it’s undoubtedly good news for EV adoption. For comparison, they are currently in a way better place financially than Tesla was when it filed for IPO back in 2010.
Also, it is quite interesting how Tencent is heavily invested in electric vehicles with billions of dollars in ownership in both Tesla and NIO.
That’s something to keep an eye on.