Can the ET5 Touring Edition Save NIO's Sales?

According to China EV Journal's report, on June 15th, the NIO ET5 Touring Edition was officially released and deliveries began on June 16th. It is worth noting that the ET5 Touring Edition is priced the same as the ET5 sedan, starting at RMB 298,000.

Specifically, the ET5 Touring Edition is available in two versions: a standard 75 kWh battery pack version priced at RMB 298,000 and an extended-range 100 kWh version priced at RMB 356,000. The value of RMB 30,000 in monthly free battery swap rights and additional warranty services are sold separately from the vehicle.

Like other NT2.0 platform products, the ET5 Touring Edition comes standard with front and rear dual-motor all-wheel drive, one lidar sensor, and four Orin X chips. It is worth mentioning that during the launch event, NIO officials also revealed that the NAD intelligent driving system, which features urban NOA (Navigate on Autopilot) functionality, will begin city early bird testing in the third quarter of this year.

With a starting price of RMB 298,000, this pricing is undoubtedly surprising. In terms of the product delivery schedule, the ET5 Touring Edition follows a similar timeline as the new ES6, with display and test drive vehicles being sent to various stores in the week prior to the launch and deliveries commencing swiftly on June 16th.

This approach maximizes the utilization of the new car's market momentum to capture a large number of orders. Li Bin, the CEO of NIO, stated in the first-quarter 2023 earnings call that compressing the delivery schedule for new vehicles resulted in a record high conversion rate of test drive orders for the new ES6.

In addition to compressing the product schedule, another key strategy NIO employs to achieve high sales volume with the ET5 Touring Edition is price reduction. Recently, NIO announced a new sales policy starting from June 12th, allowing users to choose a RMB 30,000 price discount by giving up the monthly four battery swap rights when purchasing all NT2.0 platform models. This discount can be combined with the discounted BaaS (Battery as a Service) battery leasing program, effectively reducing the prices of the ET5 and ET5 Touring Edition to below RMB 250,000, placing them in the price range where they compete with models like the Tesla Model 3 and BYD Han EV.

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Clearly, NIO's move demonstrates a determined effort to overcome challenges. Battery swapping has always been one of NIO's most well-known features, and abandoning the free battery swap rights tied to the vehicles also indicates a certain level of self-reflection: perhaps battery swapping services do not necessarily need to be closely bundled with the vehicles.

On one hand, the number of users who currently have or have access to home charging stations is gradually increasing. In addition, NIO's own charging infrastructure and other public charging stations are improving in terms of density and recharging efficiency. Many users no longer need to rely solely on the monthly four battery swaps, which results in the value of this service being somewhat wasted.

On the other hand, NIO is also exploring more flexible battery swapping options, such as downgrading the free battery swap rights, offering flexible upgrades and high-speed free swaps during holidays. NIO co-founder and president Qin Lihong also mentioned the possibility of purchasing swaps on a per-use basis rather than based on time, saying, "For example, offering discounts for 50 swaps or providing bulk purchase discounts is a logical approach."

In other words, from NIO's perspective, users have already formed the habit of battery swapping (currently, over 50% of NIO owners choose battery swapping for recharging), and there is no need to forcefully bundle it with vehicle sales. Instead, by separating the services and presenting users with a lower vehicle selling price.

Apart from the reasons for NIO actively decoupling battery swapping from vehicle models, there are also underlying reasons that necessitate price reductions. From January to May of this year, NIO delivered a total of 43,900 new vehicles. Deliveries in April and May exceeded 10,000 vehicles each month. NIO's financial data has also seen a comprehensive decline, with a gross profit margin of less than 10% and cash reserves reduced to RMB 37.8 billion.

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Therefore, NIO has to go against its previous promise of "never lowering prices" and stimulate sales by offering relatively affordable models like the ET5, ET5 Touring Edition, and the new ES6, as well as implementing measures such as compressing delivery schedules and introducing new pricing policies, aiming to quickly return to delivering over 10,000 vehicles per month.