- CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Nio founder and CEO William Li in a segment that aired on Sunday night.
- Li didn’t deny calling his car a “Tesla killer” and compared Elon Musk’s competitor to high-fashion clothing.
- “They may be beautiful, but you can’t wear them every day,” he told the correspondent Holly Williams.
Nio, an $US8 billion electric-car maker that began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last year, is rapidly scaling up throughout China – and thinks it can keep Tesla at bay.
In a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday, Nio founder and CEO William Li – who didn’t deny calling his company a “Tesla killer” – compared Tesla’s vehicles to high-fashion clothing.
“It’s like the clothes fashion models wear on the catwalk,” he said in Chinese of Tesla’s cars. “It’s not the same. They may be beautiful, but you can’t wear them every day.”
The comparison continued to include supermodels.
“So Tesla is the supermodel and you’re the girl next door?” asked the correspondent Holly Williams. “Yeah,” Li replied.
In the race to dominate the electric auto industry of the 21st century, China is vying for the pole position. The country is on pace to manufacture over a million electric cars this year. https://t.co/ok0aBXcBgl pic.twitter.com/I5iMDdFXwp
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 25, 2019
To be sure, Nio produced just 10,000 cars last year. While Tesla does not disclose unit sales in China, it brought in $US1.75 billion in revenue from the country in 2019, or about 8% of its global total. Eight per cent of Tesla’s global deliveries works out to nearly 20,000 units, assuming the same proportion of revenue to deliveries.
Michael Dunne, an auto analyst in China interviewed during the segment, said there could be room for both companies to exist.
“There’s plenty of market here to allow Tesla to play and Nio to play,” he said, adding that time could be running out for the US to catch up to China’s increasing lead on electric-vehicle production.
“It’s not too late,” Dunne said when asked about the US’s relatively slow rate of adoption. But, he said, “If we wait to 2025, China will be making 5 million a year, and if we’re still making a half a million. Now all of the technology and design engineering is concentrated in China. How do you catch up with that?”
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