has held exploratory talks with Mercedes-Benz about a partnership that would see the German automaker invest in it in exchange for technology, Reuters reported.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Nio has held exploratory talks with Mercedes-Benz about a partnership that would see the German automaker invest in the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup in exchange for technology, a Reuters report said today, citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Nio founder, chairman and CEO William Li discussed the potential tie-up with Mercedes CEO Ola Kaellenius earlier this year, seeking an investment from the latter in exchange for Nio sharing its research and development capabilities with Mercedes, the report said.

The talks did not reach the stage of discussing details of technology to be transferred and potential financial investment, the sources said.

One of the sources said Nio approached Mercedes with the tie-up proposal, but cautioned that it was facing resistance within the German company, which has discussed it internally in recent weeks and that it was highly likely it would not proceed.

Mercedes' R&D and strategy teams are largely against the proposals, citing concerns that such a technology partnership could damage Mercedes' brand image, according to Reuters.

It is unclear when a decision on the partnership will be reached, the Reuters report said.

When contacted, Nio denied it talked to Mercedes about a partnership, calling it "untrue" without elaborating, Reuters noted. In a separate response, Mercedes said that there were no collaboration plans with Nio at the moment.

This is the latest rumor about a possible partnership between Nio and Mercedes-Benz, and such rumors have surfaced several times so far this year.

At the end of May, an image of Mercedes-Benz's Källenius meeting with Nio executives, including Li, at a Nio House, circulated on social media. It's not clear when the image was taken, and many wondered what exactly they talked about.

On June 13, a screenshot appeared in several WeChat groups with text claiming that Mercedes-Benz would use Nio's battery swap network and would build its next-generation models based on Nio's standards.

The image mimicked the style of the Nio App page as well as the company's statement, though the publisher of the false statement did not exist among Nio App users.

Nio's legal department later left a comment on a Weibo post that shared the image saying that the statement in the image was a forgery.

On August 4, videos circulating in several WeChat groups as well as on Weibo showed Li accompanying several foreigners on a tour of a battery swap station.

Some speculated at the time that the foreigners might be from Mercedes-Benz, reigniting buzz about a potential partnership between Nio and the German automaker.

Nio later denied it again, saying it was untrue.

Nio says rumors of Mercedes deal false