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: NIO is making a landmark push outside of China into this electric-vehicle-obsessed country

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Chinese electric-vehicle company NIO will make a landmark move later this year by pushing into its first market outside of China, the company said on Wednesday.

NIO
NIO,
-2.73%

will expand into Norway, one of the most electric-vehicle-obsessed countries in the world, with the group’s first service and delivery center set to open in the capital Oslo in September. Four more spaces will come in 2022 in Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Kristiansand, as the after-sales service network goes nationwide, the group said.

“From its founding, NIO’s vision is to be a global brand with high-quality products and services to the users worldwide,” said William Li, NIO’s founder, chair, and chief executive. “Norway is a sustainable and innovative country and resonates with our vision.”

Also read: Tesla is about to dramatically reverse market-share losses in a key region, according to this analyst

The company said that it will establish a “full-fledged ecosystem” in Norway, going beyond vehicles and servicing to include a lifestyle brand and community app. The group will also invest in charging infrastructure, with plans for four battery-swap stations in Norway connecting five major cities by the end of 2022.

The first model to be available in Norway will be the ES8, NIO’s electric sport-utility vehicle, with the ET7, a premium electric sedan, to come in 2022. NIO will compete for the attention of Norwegian drivers with its Chinese rival XPeng
XPEV,
-5.75%
,
which delivered more than 100 vehicles to the Scandinavian country in December 2020, with more coming in 2021.

Norway is an EV-obsessed country in an EV-obsessed region.

There were more electric vehicles sold in Europe than in any other part of the world in 2020, with 1.33 million electric-vehicle registrations in 18 key European markets last year, according to automotive analyst Matthias Schmidt. Those 18 markets include 14 major European Union states plus the U.K., Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.

Plus: Forget NIO and XPeng. This company and Tesla will be the top two electric-vehicle plays by 2025, says UBS.

The EV explosion in Europe came amid a pedal-to-the-metal push to increase the adoption of cleaner transport from European governments, including offering generous incentives to consumers, which supercharged demand. However, China, which is home to a strong domestic electric-vehicle sector, reclaimed its crown as the world’s largest EV market in the early months of 2021.

But EV adoption has penetrated far deeper in Norway than in any other part of Europe. Battery-electric vehicles were nearly 53% of the mix of Norway’s national auto market by the end of the first quarter of 2021, with plug-in, hybrid-electric vehicles at more than 29%, according to Schmidt, who publishes the European Electric Car Report.

NIO will face tough competition in a red-hot European market. Volkswagen Group
VOW,
+0.76%

leads the way among battery-electric vehicle brands in the region, with Stellantis
STLA,
+0.95%

— the group formed out of the merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group earlier this year — not far behind, along with Tesla
TSLA,
-1.10%
.

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