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Latest NIO rumors: First phone to arrive next year plus a third brand targeting $15k EVs

An ever-evolving stream of rumors continues to emerge from China around EV automaker NIO and what it will be delivering next. Following reports earlier this year that NIO would be developing its own phones, we’ve gathered the latest updates, as well as the automaker’s rumored plans for an additional brand aimed at delivering EV’s priced between $15,000-$30,000.

There’s a lot of unfold here, so we will forego some of the usual background details and kick the door in on the NIO rumor mill. This past March, we reported that NIO CEO William Li had confirmed the Chinese automaker was in fact exploring the possibility of developing its own mobile phones.

At the time, Li said NIO was merely in the research phase, but its goal was to provide a branded phone that can easily integrate with its EVs and provide a holistic system to customers. Furthermore, the NIO chief named the long-rumored Apple Car as a major competitor and reason for the automaker’s decision to explore phones in anticipation of its arrival.

According to a recent Weibo post from blogger “Toner says battery is not fat” (translated from Chinese), William Li sat down for a face to face chat and shared some new details of the NIO phone:

  • The NIO mobile phone will not have a folding or curved screen and be a candy bar design
  • It will arrive as the best mobile phone to matches NIO’s EV
    • It will be”the beautiful mobile phone” will share the same colors as its vehicles
  • NIO will release one flagship phone per year
    • Will use chips about two months after the first adopters. CnEVPost points out the first NIO Phone could utilize a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip based on timeline
  • The phone will be cheaper than an Apple iPhone
    • Rumored to cost over $1,000 and will come with surprises and features in the way it’s purchased
  • It is expected to arrive within the next year

Local Chinese media outlet National Business Daily has also stated that Li made these remarks about the NIO phone.


Not just phones, but a third EV brand from NIO?

In addition to the latest phone news, Chinese outlets are reporting that NIO is developing a third EV-centric brand, aiming to deliver vehicles at its lowest prices yet. For a year now, there have been murmurs of a second, mass-market brand to join the NIO family, code named ALPS.

That brand has been been confirmed and is progressing with the goal of delivering EVs in China priced between RMB 150,000-300,000 (~$22-$44k) starting in mid-2024. According to a report from 36 Krypton out of China, NIO has already been working on a third sub-brand, code named Project Firefly to deliver EVs to serve the low-mid EV segment.

NIO, ALPS, and Firefly will all operate independently with their R&D pipelines and core teams. The EVs to arrive under the third marque are expected to cost between RMB 100,000-200,000 ($~15-$30k), the Chinese outlet compared the tiered branding strategy to Lexus, Toyota, and Suzuki, covering multiple segments and price points.

NIO would not comment to confirm the third EV brand and this point, but we will be sure to report back when things solidify and we learn more. Keep in mind that these remain rumors until NIO confirms.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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