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China's Nio Launches Onvo Brand to Challenge Tesla's Best-Selling Model

SHANGHAI, May 15 (Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio on Wednesday launched the first vehicle in its new lower-priced brand Onvo which aims to compete there with Tesla's Model Y, the world's best-selling EV.

Nio unveiled the Onvo L60 SUV with a sticker price starting from 219,900 yuan ($30,476), 12% below the price of Tesla's Model Y which starts at 249,900 yuan in China. Nio plans to start delivery of the Onvo L60 in September.

Chief executive William Li introduced the Onvo L60 SUV in Shanghai, saying the company also aimed to take on Toyota Motor's RAV4 by providing family cars that balance customer experience and ownership costs.

"RAV4 and Model Y were the benchmark for family cars in their time. With technologies evolving and people’s understanding in smart EVs deepening, today it’s time for us to redefine the new standards for family cars," Li said at the event.

The vehicle is more spacious than Tesla's Model Y, he added.

With a lower price tag, the Onvo brand could also help Nio expand outside China, although branching out into Europe is overshadowed by an ongoing anti-subsidy probe the EU has launched into EV imports from China.

The Onvo L60 is equipped with Nio's self-developed 900-volt fast-charging system and has an average energy consumption of 12.1 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per 100 kilometers, slightly lower than Tesla's Model Y, said Ai Tiecheng, president of the Onvo brand.

The Onvo cars will have access to more than 1,000 battery swapping stations and 25,000 public chargers belonging to Nio, Ai added.

Li said previously that the bill of materials of the Onvo car would be 10% lower than that of Tesla's Model Y, according to Chinese media. Its lower cost, together with Nio's EV battery rental programme, would allow it to better compete at a lower price.

Reuters reported last week that Nio has struck a deal to source batteries from BYD for the Onvo lineup, as it abandoned plans to produce batteries in-house as part of the efforts to reduce costs amid a bruising price war in China's ultra-competitive EV market.

Nio, whose namesake lineup is priced from 298,900 yuan ($41,200), around 30% higher than the Model 3 in China, sold 45,673 EVs in the first four months of this year, accounting for 3% of China's overall EV sales.

By contrast, Tesla delivered 163,841 units in China to take an 11.4% market share, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association.

($1 = 7.2155 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Zhang Yan and Miyoung Kim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree, Louise Heavens, Toby Chopra and Michael Erman

Source: Reuters

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