Currently reading: Nio on track for UK sales and battery swapping by 2025
Chinese EV brand "extremely keen" on UK but requires service partners and Power Swap stations

Nio's UK launch is likely to happen by 2025 as part of the Chinese electric car maker's plan to be selling in 25 markets by the end of that year.

Speaking to Autocar at the Munich motor show, Nio's Europe boss, Hui Zhang, said: "We believe the UK is one of the most important markets in Europe as the second biggest after Germany. We will go to that market. In 2025 we want to be present in over 25 countries and regions around the world and I believe the UK is in the 25 countries."

That comment meant Zhang stopped short of a full-blown confirmation for Nio in the UK. A 2024 launch had once been tipped by the brand.

However, the planning work is under way for a Nio launch. Right-hand drive is not an issue for Nio in the UK but instead the company is focusing on more strategic work in deciding where to put the upfront investments in building Nio 'Houses' to front its direct sales model and also the battery swap stations that are "our USP and something the user expects" from Nio, according to Zhang.

Zhang said Norway was chosen as the first Nio market because it is the most mature EV market in Europe and there is a high GDP in the country. The likes of the Netherlands have followed because it has a very dense charging network already established.

Nio house 0

Nio quickly established a European headquarters in Munich in 2015 after being incorporated in 2014 and last year began sales in Europe for the first time. It currently sells in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands and has other operations in Europe, with an engineering centre near Oxford and a factory in Hungary. Around 1250 people work for Nio in Europe.

Models sold in Europe include the ET5 and ET7 saloons, the ET5 Touring estate and the EL6 and EL7 SUVs. Norway also gets the larger ES8 SUV. Which products it would offer for a UK launch has yet to be decided.

Nio, which offers its cars for outright purchase, subscription or through company leases, charges €289 (£249) in Germany for four monthly swaps of a 100kWh battery.

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The battery swap model is one that, Nio says, benefits customers by giving it the ability to upgrade battery technology and also offer safety and security of the battery. Zhang said it is also good for residual values because there is no need to factor in the depletion of the battery life and capacity into a car's future value.

When asked earlier this year about the firm’s launch date, UK boss Matt Galvin said: “We’re extremely keen to launch but we want to make sure we only launch when we’re ready, and we have the cars, partners that can service the cars and the ability to offer a great community experience.

“The benefit of being in the second wave of expansion is that we can learn from the initial European launch. We’ve learned how important infrastructure is, and that preparation in that area is key to making sure we offer a user experience that is fantastic from day one.”

As with other European markets, Nio will operate a direct sales model in the UK, with online purchases supported by a number of Nio Houses where customers can see and test cars, and Galvin said talks were ongoing with partners to ensure servicing arrangements were in place.

Galvin added that the firm was committed to having a number of Power Swap stations, which can swap a battery pack in a Nio car for a new one in under five minutes. Galvin said that other European markets have shown “just how important Power Swap is as a differentiating factor”. 

Nio et5 touring exterior front three quarter track

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One challenge for Nio in Europe has been the speed with which it can secure locations for Power Swap stations. While the process of securing permits can take weeks in China, the paperwork has taken several months in Germany. There are also challenges in the UK with securing both sites and grid connections.

Galvin declined to say how many Power Swap sites the firm wanted to have ready for a UK launch, but said: “They will be prioritised in terms of connecting major cities on trunk roads, and then we’ll look to expand into urban environments where users might not have access to off-street parking. They can use Power Swap stations like petrol stations.”

Because they store battery packs that can then be charged slowly, Power Swap stations don’t require as large a grid connection as a standard fast charger, but Galvin noted many of the sites will also offer traditional EV charging. 

“The logic for investing in Power Swap infrastructure is that we’re a user-centric brand,” said Galvin. “For mass adoption of electric vehicles, you have to make it as easy as possible. At the moment, some people don’t see it as being particularly easy, but Power Swap brings a new dimension.”

Nio cars will be offered in the UK on a battery-as-a-service (BaaS) model, with users leasing the batteries so that they can be swapped regularly. Galvin said that addressed another “inhibitor” for EV buying by reducing the price of a car and guaranteeing a minimum state of health for battery packs.

Nio is planning a three-car line-up for the initial UK launch, which will grow rapidly in the coming years. The firm’s original platforms were not designed with right-hand drive in mind and have had to be adapted, but new models such as the recently revealed EL6 SUV use a new platform that enables easier RHD conversion.

“The product life cycle is much shorter for Chinese EVs. It’s three years, typically,” said Galvin. “The rate of advancement is ferocious. But we’re a global brand. We’ve got R&D in Oxford, and design and engineering in Germany. The EL6 was designed for the European market. It’s not about bringing a Chinese car for the Chinese market and hoping it works in Europe.”

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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scotty5 14 September 2023

have always liked this idea of swapping but whether the logistics and a set of standards can be addressed is another matter.

Elsewhere in the news, the EU are investigating 'cheap' Chinese imports citing heavy subsidies from their government. It may result in the EU increasing Chinese car import tariffs which will no doubt lead to a trade war.

What a cheek. Like anyone with an IQ in double digits, I despise Donald Trump, but he was right about one thing ( the only thing I agreed with ), when it came to automobile import taxes, he likened the EU to China. The EU imposed a 10% duty on US manufactured cars whilst the US imposed a 2.5% duty on EU manufactured cars. When Trump said he wanted to create a level playing field, the EU's response was he'd be taxing the US motorist and harming the US economy.

Let the EU get on with fighting their own battles, now we're free from their corruption, let's hope the UK government don't follow suit. We were told the price of EV's would drop as manufactuing increased which, excluding those Chinese models, has proved to be far from the truth. How can we be compelled to buy EV's if their prices are beyond the reach of most?

Over £40k for a battery powered Vauxhall Astra. They're having a laugh.