William Li said the openness and fierce competition in the Chinese market were key to the rapid adoption of EVs, implicitly blaming US protectionism.

(File photo from the app shows William Li attending an owner communication event.)

William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of Nio (NYSE: NIO), credited China's open market and fierce competition for the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), implicitly blaming protectionism adopted by the US.

"China is the most open market in the world. As far as I know, China's tax and subsidy policies don't have any restrictions on whether (an EV) is imported or where the raw materials come from," Li said in a speech at the World New Energy Vehicles Congress in Munich, Germany, today.

China's open and competitive market is a very important basis for the rapid increase in the penetration of new energy vehicles (NEVs), Li said, adding that the percentage has largely exceeded 30 percent so far this year.

Li didn't mention it directly, but he was clearly contrasting the openness of China's EV market with the protectionist policies adopted by the US.

The US passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, which introduced restrictions on raw material sources in its subsidies for EVs.

In an interview with German media outlet Heise Autos in October 2022, Li said that Nio had planned to enter the US market by 2025, but that US policies had complicated matters.

The US government passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which made it harder for foreign automakers to enter its market, Li said at the time.

In an interview with the Financial Times in July, Li called on the US government to provide Chinese EVs with equal access to the US market and argued that automakers should not get caught up in political tensions between superpowers.

"The world should be more open and stop politicizing business," Li said in the interview. "The global political climate has become totally different from that when we set up our company back in 2015, especially after the pandemic stirred up division and antagonism," he said.

In today's speech, Li said startups like Nio, as well as other successful traditional and foreign car companies, have launched competitive products in China, delivering a great user experience and accelerating the transition from fuel vehicles to NEVs.

Li also mentioned that China has long been the world's largest auto market, and for the eighth consecutive year, the world's largest market for NEVs.

"As a startup company, it's a blessing to be in China. Because China has the biggest market, a very stable policy, and a very big, very good supply chain base," Li said, adding that "but entrepreneurs suffer because the market in China is so competitive."

Nio's William Li questions US protectionism, demands equal access to US market