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EMAILED ON August 15, 2018 BY Conor Grant

Chinese electric carmaker filed for a $1.8B IPO in the US after selling just 481 cars

Nio, a Chinese electric carmaker, just filed for a $1.8B IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. They have some major big backers as well, including Baidu, Tencent and more — and yet, they’ve shipped fewer than 500 cars.

The company faces many of the same challenges as American rival Tesla, but has chosen to solve them in a different way. Now it’s up to the market to decide whether investors — and consumers — buy what Nio is selling.

Shocker: Making electric cars is expensive

Founded in 2016, Nio lost $374m that year and $759m in 2017. Now in its first year of actual sales, the company has already lost another $503m — while bringing in just $6.9m in revenue.

But, according to Nio executives, 17k cars have already been reserved. Despite having shipped few cars in its home market, Nio plans to expand quickly to the US and other global markets.

Much like Tesla, Nio claims that its cars will start rolling off the shelves once the company has dialed in all its distribution infrastructure.

Tesla and Nio have verrry different models

Yes, yes, different car models… but also different business models.

Manic Musk and the Tesla team took a vertically integrated approach, building components in-house and setting up a charging grid. Nio went the opposite direction, outsourcing production and relying on battery swapping and roving trucks to charge.

Nio faces many of Tesla’s same cash flow problems — plus less control over production and infrastructure and a corporate structure that could slow production down even further.

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