Breaking news: Nio’s 3rd brand Firefly is not compatible with Nio swap stations

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A video posted late on June 30 on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, confirmed what we speculated in early June; Nio’s new Firefly brand will not be compatible with Nio swap stations. Firefly is the codename for Nio’s third brand which was originally aimed at the European market. Now the brand, which specializes in smaller EVs, will reportedly launch in China first and then Europe later.

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In the recent video Nio founder William Li is seen wearing a T-shirt, speaking possibly to members of the media, but it is not clear where the video was taken or when. In the poor quality 17-second video Li clearly says that the Firefly brand is not compatible with current Nio battery swap stations and that the brand will use special container-sized small battery swap stations. These will have a relatively simple structure and you will be able to buy coffee in the Firefly swap station.

Last month when we brought you the initial news that Firefly cannot use Nio swap stations we suspected it might just be a case that they are unable to use existing ones and that the new fourth-generation station which debuted in mid-June would be compatible. This is certainly the case with Nio’s second brand Onvo. Cars from the Onvo brand are not compatible with first and second-generation stations. Third-generation stations require modifications before Onvo cars can use them but the fourth-generation are fully compatible.

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Obviously, this is not the case with Firefly. The stumbling block for compatibility is the wheelbase. In an earnings call in June Nio indicated that the first Firefly model would be priced around 100,000 yuan (13,800 USD). Firefly will focus on smaller, more affordable cars positioned in the 100,000 – 200,000 yuan (13,800 – 27,600 USD) segment. Nio says that it has not publicly released the wheelbase requirements for the fourth-generation swap station yet but the second and third-generation both have a requirement of a 2800 mm wheelbase.

Small cars will likely need shorter wheelbases than 2800 mm. A Volkswagen ID.3 has a relatively long 2770 mm wheelbase but a BYD Dolphin is 2700 mm, and an MG4 has 2705 mm.

Editor’s note:

Where does all this leave the Firefly brand? From July 4 Nio cars will be subject to a 21% tariff in the EU on top of the existing 10% tariff. This along with Nio’s poor performance so far in Europe is probably part of the reason for Nio reportedly no longer launching the Firefly brand simultaneously in the EU and China.

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Creating another battery swapping network in addition to the one for Nio is going to be a huge cost. While by the sounds the stations will be much simpler and likely cheaper than Nio swap stations, costs aside there are the logistical implications along with rolling out such a network for an unproven brand. This will be a huge drain on the resources of the company.

Source: Weibo

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  1. this is totally stupid,
    they invent swap stations and the own brands are ot able to use it, who has this decided? wrong decision, not so bad idea, and now .. strange

  2. OMG, what they are doing. Their own battery swap are not compatible with their own brands, and they are trying to cooperate with other car producers?
    Its a joke, big joke.
    Now their own swap station cannot swap batteries for onvo and firefly. Its a f…ing joke. We have been lied for years.
    How stupid Li have to be to think about subbrands and cooperation with other brands and still pumping money in very costly chain of battery swap stations which cannot swap batteries even for their subbrands.
    Its f…ing idiotic.

    • Onvo can be swapped in fourth-generation stations without modifications. Third-generation station need modifying which I think costs somewhere in the region of 100-200,000 RMB if my memory serves me correctly. Presumably Nio has a plan to do all the third generation stations, I think there are about a 1000 of them.

      The Firefly issue though beggars belief. If it’s not compatible why bother making it battery swappable?


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