As Tesla looks to go private, Chinese rival plans U.S. IPO

As Tesla’s board considers CEO Elon Musk’s plan to take the electric-car maker private, Chinese competitor Nio is moving in the opposite direction after filing to go public on the New York Stock Exchange.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, Nio said it is looking to raise $1.8 billion in an initial public offering.

Backed by Chinese internet giants Baidu, Tencent and others, Nio was founded in 2014 in Shanghai by Bin Li, an entrepreneur who previously started an online automotive services platform called Bitauto. 

The Chinese auto maker in late June began making deliveries of its first mass-produced electric car, the ES8, after unveiling the $67,000 seven-seat SUV last year. The ES8 can drive up to 310 miles in a single charge and accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, according to Nio. As of July 31, customers had put down deposits on 17,000 of the vehicles.

Nio expects to start deliveries of a second vehicle, the five-seat ES6 SUV, in 2019, and is looking to introduce a sedan, dubbed the ET7, onto the market in 2020. 

“We are generally targeting to launch a new model every year in the near future as we ramp up our business,” Nio said in its securities filing.

The Nio ES8 on display during a media preview of the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China, April 25, 2018.

Damir Sagolj / REUTERS

Like Tesla, Nio loses money. The company reported $6.9 million in revenue as of the end of June, with a total loss of $502 million for 2018 so far. The company lost $759 million last year, with Nio generating no revenue and spending almost $400 million on research and development.

While looking to be publicly traded in the U.S., Nico for now only plans to sell its vehicles in China.

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