The two models, similar to the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Leaf, will primarily target the European market, with production expected to begin in 2024, according to local media.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

The first models of NIO's (NYSE: ) two sub-brands, codenamed ALPS and Firefly, will both be compact hatchbacks that are popular in the European market, local tech media LatePost reported on Wednesday.

The two models, similar to the Volkswagen Golf as well as the Nissan Leaf, will mainly target the European market, and both are expected to start production in 2024, the report said.

The two sub-brands will share the battery swap station network with the NIO brand, but the teams, channels, marketing systems, apps and communities will be separate, according to the report.

NIO confirmed in August last year that the company would enter the mass market with the new brand and had already established a core team. In subsequent external communications, NIO management mentioned that the sub-brand's internal code name would be ALPS.

In August this year, 36kr reported that NIO plans to launch a third car brand in addition to NIO and the brand codenamed ALPS to cover the low to mid-range market below RMB 200,000.

Within NIO, the three brands are seen as a stepped matrix similar to Toyota's Lexus, Toyota and Suzuki, the report said.

Weibo car blogger @肉肉爸比ev said after the report in August that NIO's third brand began preparations around the same time as ALPS, with the project codenamed Firefly, which the company internally refers to as Project FY.

Yicai reported at the time that the product definition and development showed that the first product of NIO's third brand would be an entry-level electric sedan in the RMB 100,000 range.

NIO's sub-brand, ALPS, will reduce the number of products to improve efficiency and will have half the number of models of the NIO brand, William Li, the company's founder, chairman and CEO, said in an internal speech in November.

For the mass-market sub-brands, NIO hopes to sell 50,000 units a month, Li said in an analyst call on November 10 after the company announced its third-quarter earnings.

Prior to that, Li said in an interview with German media outlet Heise Autos in October that NIO wants to be one of the world's top five carmakers by 2030.

To achieve that goal, NIO would need to sell more than 5 million cars a year, LatePost noted in the report yesterday.

Of the more than 21 million passenger cars sold in the Chinese market in 2021, 72.4 percent cost less than RMB 200,000 and 86.8 percent less than RMB 300,000, the report said, adding that NIO will have to expand into the mass market if it is to achieve millions in annual sales.

NIO's multi-brand strategy is similar to Toyota's approach, which has three brands -- Lexus, Toyota and Suzuki -- in the high-end, mid-range and low-end markets, respectively, the report noted.

NIO's sub-brand codenamed ALPS will target the RMB 200,000 to 300,000 market, while the sub-brand codenamed Firefly will target the RMB 100,000 - 200,000 market, the report said.

In addition, the LatePost report also mentioned that NIO's battery team, which already numbers nearly 1,000 people, is developing lithium manganese iron phosphate and 4680 batteries for use in the NIO brand and sub-brand ALPS.

In NeoPark, a new campus that began construction last April, NIO is planning a 100 GWh-per-year battery factory, the vast majority of which will be contributed by the electric vehicle maker, LatePost said, citing a source close to the company.

Li mentioned in his internal speech in November that NIO's future battery supply will be 70 percent from its own production and 30 percent from external supplies, the report noted.