Nio Inc (NASDAQ:NIO), the Chinese electric vehicle maker considered a rival of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), has achieved a crucial milestone in its journey toward smartphone production. The company’s nascent endeavor, speculated upon since last year, has now passed a significant regulatory hurdle.
Nio’s inaugural smartphone, bearing the model number N2301, has successfully obtained an internet access license from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, CnEVpost reported on Friday, citing a government filing.
William Li, founder and chief executive of Shanghai-headquartered Nio, questioned why Chinese companies faced hurdles selling their high-tech cars to American consumers. “The world should be more open and stop politicising business. The global political climate has become totally different from that when we set up our company back in 2015, especially after the pandemic stirred up division and antagonism” said Li in an interview with the Financial Times.
However, access to the US is complicated by high tariffs on vehicles from China. There is also uncertainty over access to subsidies and the treatment of Chinese-branded vehicles and China-made EV components under Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which is aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and cutting American economic dependency on China. “Chinese consumers have a wide range of [new energy vehicles] to choose from. Why can’t these products be enjoyed by US consumers as well?” said Li according to the Financial Times
The license, granted on July 10, is effective for two years. Designed with Android functionality, the device reportedly boasts 5G capabilities and supports dual-SIM card usage. Manufactured in Xiangtan, Hunan province, the specifics regarding its original equipment manufacturer remain undisclosed.
The smartphone has already secured a radio approval certificate, according to the report, indicating its compatibility with a range of network formats, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. Notably, the device also supports Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) technology, a distinctive feature for car key functionality.
CEO William Li had hinted at Nio’s interest in smartphone manufacturing during the research phase, signaling the company’s exploration of potential synergies between the mobile device and its core automotive products.
Exactly a year ago, the company set up Nio Mobile Technologies Co Ltd with a registered capital of $100 million, in a clear push toward making its smartphone vision a reality.
The upcoming release of Nio’s debut smartphone, anticipated in the third quarter, coincides with the introduction of the new ES8 model showcased during Nio Day 2022.
In contrast, while rumors of Tesla’s own smartphone project have circulated for some time, concrete developments remain elusive. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, had briefly mentioned creating an “alternative phone” last year after acquiring Twitter (now called X), after the microblogging site’s uncertain status on mainstream app stores.
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Eunice Anyango Oyule and Judy J. Rotich