NIO's F4 plant integrates Leopard's original plant, and more information may be announced in March-April, according to local media.
( Image taken by CnEVPost shows the inside of NIO's F1 factory in Hefei.)
CnEVPost reported about a month ago that NIO's (NYSE: NIO) F4 plant for a sub-brand would be located in Chuzhou, Anhui province. Now, a new report from a leading local media outlet backed up the information and provided more details.
NIO's fourth vehicle assembly plant will be located in the Chuzhou Economic Development Zone and will produce models for the company's third brand, internally codenamed Firefly, Cailian reported today, citing sources from the city.
The plant integrates the former factory of the defunct automaker Leopard, with more information likely to be announced in March-April, the report said, citing a Chuzhou government source in charge of recruiting business investment.
Leopard, which originated in 1950, sold more than 100,000 units in 2017, making it the largest SUV maker in China. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2021, after its business situation continued to deteriorate.
The automaker's plants in several regions were taken over by other car companies, while the plant in Chuzhou has been nationalized, Cailian's report noted.
In June 2022, the investor in Anhui Leopard Automotive Co Ltd changed to an entity controlled by the Chuzhou Municipal Finance Bureau, information from data provider Tianyancha shows.
NIO's current models on sale include the older ES8, ES7, ES6, EC6, ET7 and ET5. It launched two new models -- the EC7 coupe SUV and the new ES8 -- on NIO Day 2022, which was held on December 24, 2022, with deliveries set to begin in May and June 2023, respectively.
Only the ET5 is currently produced at the company's F2 plant in NeoPark, while all other models are produced at the F1 plant, the JAC NIO advanced manufacturing base. The two production sites are both located in Hefei.
On January 26, NIO co-founder and president Qin Lihong said at a face-to-face communication with vehicle owners that NIO is preparing models for a sub-brand codenamed ALPS, with deliveries expected to begin within 2024.
The company's other sub-brand, codenamed Firefly, is also in the planning stages and will be delivered first to European consumers, Qin said.
NIO's smaller model is in development and will debut in Europe and is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2024, according to Qin.
A source told CnEVPost on January 31 that the F4 plant for NIO's Firefly sub-brand will be located in Chuzhou, while the F3 plant for the ALPS sub-brand will continue to be located in Hefei.
The F4 plant will also assemble vehicles for the Firefly project and produce some parts, the source said, adding that the brand will initially produce vehicles mainly for export to Europe, with production scheduled for the third quarter of 2024.
The Chuzhou plant will produce small cars priced at around 100,000 yuan (15,000), the source said.
In addition to the F4 vehicle assembly plant, some suppliers are beginning to deploy production in Chuzhou.
Ningbo Yangguang Auto Parts Co Ltd, a tier 1 supplier to NIO, signed a contract with the Chuzhou Economic Development Zone on January 30 to build a project there with an annual capacity of 20 million sets of new lightweight automotive interior trim systems, the Cailian report noted today.