The autonomous driving development and cockpit businesses of the Alps sub-brand are largely integrated with the brand, with some businesses still operating independently, according to local media.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Nio (NYSE: NIO) has integrated some of the operations of the sub-brand codenamed Alps into the team of the main Nio brand as part of its efforts to improve efficiency, according to a local media report.

The Alps team recently completed a series of realignments, with autonomous driving development and cockpit-related businesses largely integrated with the Nio brand, with some businesses still operating independently, according to a report by LatePost.

Alps has been operating independently since its inception, with a full R&D department. By early 2023, the sub-brand had a team size of more than 800 people, and the overlap with the Nio brand was gradually becoming increasingly significant, the report said.

Alps previously had its own smart cockpit team, but Nio's main brand cockpit team can do almost all of the work, the report said, citing a person close to Nio.

Alps entered a period of restructuring after Nio founder, chairman, and CEO William Li said in an internal letter in November that the company would merge duplicate departments and positions, the report noted.

Li outlined plans for organizational optimization in his November 3 internal letter, including reducing positions by about 10 percent and emphasizing improving execution efficiency, as previously reported by CnEVPost.

Nio will improve organizational efficiency by consolidating duplicate departments and roles, reforming inefficient processes and division of role responsibilities, and eliminating inefficient positions, Li said at the time.

The company will improve resource efficiency and defer or cut investments in projects that do not contribute to the company's financial performance over a three-year period, Li said in the letter.

In the integration of the Alps and Nio brands, the two were not simply separated or fully merged, LatePost said in the report today, citing people familiar with the matter.

Businesses that are of a center-stage nature became the focus of the integration, and after the realignment was completed, Alps' smart driving and smart cockpit teams were basically merged into their Nio counterparts, according to the report.

Currently, Nio's autonomous driving R&D is headed by vice president Ren Shaoqing, and smart cockpit R&D is headed by vice president of software development Zhang Lei, the report noted.

Nio confirmed in August 2021 that it would enter the mass market through a sub-brand, and said in subsequent communications that it has two sub-brands, internally codenamed Alps and Firefly.

Alps is thought to target the family car market priced between RMB 200,000 ($28,000) and RMB 300,000, and Firefly will target the sub-RMB 200,000 market.

On August 29, 2023, Li said in an analyst call after Nio announced its second quarter earnings that development of the Alps' models was going very well, with the first pilot test car off the line and a second model already in development.

On December 5, Li said on a call after Nio announced its third-quarter earnings that Alps completed pilot production of its VB (Validation Build) prototype, with plenty of time to optimize and improve it.

Alps' first model will be an SUV and the second a sedan, both priced under RMB 300,000 yuan, LatePost reported today.

Alps' direct stores will begin opening in the third quarter of 2024, according to the report.

On September 14, LatePost reported that Nio approached a leading local dealer group in the first half of 2023 to do some trials for introducing a dealer model for the Alps sub-brand.

Today's latest report did not mention whether Alps will bring in dealers.

($1 = RMB 7.1632)

Nio Alps' 1st model to be SUV, deliveries to begin in H2, report says