Competition is fierce at the moment, and the timing of 's second brand's entry into the market is important, William Li said on December 24.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Nio's (NYSE: NIO) sub-brand codenamed Alps is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2024, Tencent News said in a report today, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The electric vehicle (EV) maker, which unveiled its executive flagship sedan ET9 at the Nio Day 2023 event on December 23, didn't reveal any planned timeline for the launch of its two sub-brands.

Nio is also working on a sub-brand internally codenamed Firefly in addition to Alps. The Alps brand is expected to target the RMB 200,000 ($28,000) - RMB 300,000 market, while Firefly is expected to aim for the RMB 200,000-or-less market, according to previous reports in local media.

Competition is currently fierce, and the timing of Nio's second brand entering the market is very important, William Li, the company's founder, chairman and CEO, said in a December 24 interview with media including CnEVPost in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, northwest China.

Nio didn't make earlier market entry for the mass-market-oriented sub-brand a high priority when it set its strategy several years ago, Li said.

"We have to be bold in some things, like Nio's technological innovations. But in some things we need to dare to be the latecomer, such as entering the mass market, which is dominated by family cars," Li said.

Nio confirmed in August 2021 that it would enter the mass market through sub-brands, and in subsequent communications said it had two sub-brands with internal codenames Alps and Firefly.

On August 29, Li said during an analyst call after Nio announced its second-quarter earnings that Alps' model development was going very well, with the first pilot test vehicle off the line and a second model already in development.

Alps' model development is based on a different philosophy than the Nio brand and will be more focused on the family scenario, Li said at the time, adding that the brand would not have many models and will be more focused on the sales of each model.

On September 14, local media outlet LatePost reported that Alps will be aimed at the market priced around RMB 200,000, with a team that already numbers more than 800 people, and that the first vehicle was scheduled to be mass-produced and begin deliveries in the second half of 2024.

On December 5, Li said in a call after Nio announced its third-quarter earnings that Alps completed trial production of its VB (Validation Build) prototypes, and that there's still plenty of time to optimize and improve it.

In addition to Alps, Nio seems to be moving forward with the Firefly project in parallel.

Nio has set up a parts subsidiary in Chuzhou, Anhui province, a city previously rumored to be home to the Firefly's factory.

The subsidiary, called Chuzhou Guangqi Auto Parts Co Ltd (滁州光启汽车零部件有限公司in Chinese), was formally incorporated on December 21 with registered capital of RMB 500 million, according to data provider Tianyancha.

($1 = RMB 7.1461)

Nio sets up parts firm in Chuzhou, possibly for Firefly brand