NIO Phone ‘On Par with Apple’ and Launching Within a Year, Says CEO

NIO founder, chairman, and CEO William Li said on Saturday that the electric vehicle (EV) maker is making good progress on its smartphone project and teased that the first model could launch within a year (via CnEVPost).

Li said back in March that the company started looking into phone manufacturing after customers expressed interest in a phone that would connect better with cars.

Later in July, the CEO confirmed NIO was moving forward with plans to develop a smartphone. He added that the company would release one smartphone model per year, not unlike Apple.

Li’s recent comments came during the opening ceremony of a new NIO House — the automaker’s upscale take on a car showroom — in Dongguan, Guangdong. The information comes from a local NIO owner and car blogger who attended the event and later posted about it on the Chinese social network Weibo.

“Some users have recently seen demos of the NIO phone and it’s said to be really completely on par with Apple,” the blogger said.

Reports from Chinese publications have NIO’s first smartphone pegged for a high-end offering that will likely launch in late 2023. While NIO could have brought a smartphone to market this year, unnamed sources told local automotive media outlet that it was delayed because the team has higher aspirations and wants to further refine it.

During Saturday’s NIO House opening, Li also said the company has no plans to launch an electric multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) anytime soon and offered reasons for car buyers to pick NIO over veteran automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi when looking at all-electric options.

Earlier this week, NIO celebrated its 8th anniversary and a total of over 270,000 customers across the globe. The Chinese automaker also opened its first battery swap station in Sweden last week.