Alpine, a sub-brand of Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO aimed at consumers with a budget between 200,000 yuan ($29,019) and 300,000 yuan ($43,528), will be rolled out through new sales channels. The number of models is expected to be half of that of NIO, media outlet Jiemian News reported on February 22.
Alpine is built on NIO‘s NT3.0 platform that supports high-voltage fast charging technology. Mass production of Alpine models is expected to commence in the second half of 2024. The head of the brand is Ai Tiecheng, a newcomer to the automobile industry and a friend of Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of NIO. According to NIO, Alpine’s monthly sales volume will reach 50,000 units.
William Li, chairman of NIO, once said that Alpine’s models will directly compete with the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, with prices about 10% lower than Tesla.
Qin previously pointed out that this year’s lineup of NIO cars includes at least eight different models. According to sources close to the company, meeting the needs of customers in the lower-end market remains the greatest challenge for NIO.
Firefly, another sub-brand of NIO, will produce cars priced between 100,000 yuan ($14,508) and 200,000 yuan ($29,016) and aim at European markets. Firefly cars will support battery swapping and leasing mode, and is expected to be released in the third quarter of next year. Insiders involved in the Firefly project said that its products will compete with Volkswagen Polo. While less premium compared to NIO and Alpine, Firefly’s products are aimed to be superior to those of many European automobile companies.
The structure of NIO‘s three major brands (NIO, Alpine, and Firefly) are similar to Toyota’s major brands (Toyota, Suzuki, and Lexus). NIO expects to become one of the top five automobile manufacturers in the world.
In addition, NIO expects to reach its break-even point in 2024, at which time its sub-brands will be entering their production stages. By expanding products and stimulating sales, NIO hopes to realize a profit on the basis of maintaining its current gross profit margin.
NIO has invested in fields related to electric vehicles, including batteries and battery swapping stations, in addition to mobile phones and chips. However, whether NIO‘s resources, talent, and management strategies can support large-scale business growth is often questioned. Li pointed out in a company memo at the beginning of this year that the team expansion in 2022 led to unclear responsibilities, inconsistent goals, inefficient processes, and developmental redundancies; thus, there is still much room for improvement.