"A high market cap means we're getting high expectations, but NIO is still in the early stages," William Li, founder, chairman, and CEO of NIO said at an event Thursday.
Speaking about NIO's valuation at GeekPark Innovation Conference 2021 on January 28, Li said that while outside expectations won't overwhelm the company, high expectations also mean it will get more backlash if things go wrong. "We're still in the process of winning the ultimate competition, so the pressure is even greater now than it was in 2019."
NIO shares rose 1,286 percent the past year to a current market capitalization of $91 billion, crossing Daimler as the fifth-highest market capitalization car company in the world.
At this point in time, Li believes that doing the right thing and getting it right is something to think about. "The best decisions are made when times are the hardest, and the worst decisions are made when times are good," Li stated.
"As we get more and more users, the ability to maintain that level of service is the biggest challenge for NIO, and just something that I'm currently anxious about," Li stated.
"NIO is a high-end intelligent electric car, including 4 keywords: intelligent, electric, car, high-end," Li stated, adding that "in terms of 'intelligence', there are many excellent artificial intelligence companies in China, and the whole industry foundation is very good."
While high-end may seem like a difficult path, sometimes the hardest path is the one most likely to succeed, he said.
Li said that 40 percent of the world's high-end cars are in China, which has become the largest high-end market in the world. The cost of a high-end brand allows it to use the latest technology, which will be applied to a more mass-market in a year or two.
"NIO has been building a system of innovation capability, R&D capability from the very beginning, and invests billions of RMB in R&D every year. All of our motors, battery testing systems, assisted driving systems, autonomous driving systems, we do it all ourselves." Li said.
When the ET7 was released on January 9, NIO announced many new technologies, which are the result of NIO's research and development to mass production in the past few years, he claimed.
According to Li, "It's no secret that Apple builds cars. Apple is equipped from the perspective of the capabilities, funding, and technology needed for smart cars. But Apple cares not only about technology itself, but also the combination of technology and humanities, which NIO is also pursuing. We are all in the same development direction, so we may be both teammates and rivals."
"Something I care about is the enhancement of the emotional experience that comes with technological advancement. I'm not only concerned about technological advances, but more concerned about how technology changes human interaction," Li stated.
"Technology will make society as a whole more efficient, but can technology create goodness? I'm not an efficiency-oriented person, and I'm always wary of efficiency-oriented things," he asserts.
Li believes that autonomous driving, which is now close to commercialization, has made a huge difference to the industry, and the whole product shape of the car will become different because of autonomous driving. In the past, cars were all about horsepower, but in the future, they may have to compare arithmetic power and intelligence.
Li said that the market where NIO is located is very broad, but now it only occupies a small market share, and for the time being, it has no energy to involve the market below RMB 300,000 ($46,400).