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NIO confident its affordable Firefly EVs will still be competitive despite EU tariffs

With additional tariffs expected on imported Chinese EVs, NIO says its affordable Firefly brand will still be competitive in the EU. Although it may impact sales, CEO William Li is still confident in the EV maker’s expansion plans.

NIO announced plans to enter the mass-market EV market in 2021. However, it wasn’t until January 2023 that NIO publicly confirmed the Firefly brand existed.

According to NIO president Qin Lihong, Firefly EVs will be priced between $13,800 (100,000 yuan) and $27,500 (200,000 yuan). At the time, NIO’s president said the affordable EVs would launch in the EU in the third quarter of 2024.

In an interview last month, Qin explained that although the brand was ready, the launch was delayed until Q2 2025.

Earlier this month, local media reported that NIO was shifting plans and would accelerate Firefly’s launch in China first. According to the report, NIO’s affordable Firefly EVs are expected to debut in China by the end of the year, ahead of the EU in the first half of 2025.

NIO Onvo L60 launch event (Source: NIO

NIO confident in affordable Firefly EVs despite EU tariffs

NIO’s CEO, William Li, assured the new brand could still make its mark in Europe even with additional tariffs during an event Wednesday (via CnEVPost).

Li criticized the decision, saying, “The EU originally imposed a 10 percent tariff on Chinese EVs, and now an additional 21 percent has been added, raising it to 31 percent, which is definitely not right.”

NIO’s leader called it a conflict of logic as Europe is viewed as a global role model for clean energy.

NIO produces its 500,000th EV (Source: NIO)

The comments come after the EU revealed potential additional tariffs on Chinese EV imports by up to 38.1% last week.

Although a final decision has yet to be made, Li remains confident in its affordable Firefly EVs in the EU. “We certainly don’t want to end up with so many additional tariffs, but if that’s what’s ultimately decided, then for Firefly, even with these additional tariffs, it will still be competitive in Europe,” Li explained.

Li added, “Even if we are going to be hit with so many tariffs, we still have a chance, we are still competitive, but of course, it will affect some sales and profits.”

2024 NIO ET7 (Source: NIO)

If volume reaches around 100,000 units, NIO may consider producing the EVs in Europe. “It’s something that has to be done to go global,” Li explained. However, “The initial volume may not be enough to support,” Li said, making it not cost-effective.

If no resolution is found, NIO and its affordable Firefly EVs will be subject to the EU’s 21% weighted average additional import tariff.

Other leading Chinese EV makers, like BYD, also remain confident in their expansion plans amid looming EU tariffs. In fact, BYD sees bigger profits on some EVs sold in Europe than in China, even with tariffs.

NIO opened a new NIO House in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday as it expands in the region. The new showroom is NIO’s fourth in Germany and eighth in Europe.

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Avatar for Peter Johnson Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising

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