William Li, the founder of Chinese smart EV maker Nio, called for ‘openness’ in a recent speech at Harvard University.

It comes amid rising international trade tensions involving automotive products and technology transfer. The US is seeking to restrict China’s access to its market and in Europe, the EU’s European Commission is investigating whether to impose tariffs to protect EU car producers against cheaper Chinese EV imports.

Nio has five R&D centres in Europe with its most recent, the Smart Driving Technology Centre having launched outside of Berlin earlier this month.

In a transcript provided by the firm, Mr Li noted that Elon Musk’s Tesla had “boosted EV penetration” and “energised the automotive industry in China.”

Tesla has a Gigafactory in Shanghai, and in the last three years, has sold more than 1.36 million cars in China with Model Y being the best-selling model in 2023.  

He added: “Competition will lead to greater investment, longer time to breakeven, less margin for mistakes, and lower chances of success. Of course, we know that. However, we do not expect China to adopt policies to protect domestic players.”

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“Today, we must admit that the world is more divided than ten years ago, and it becomes more and more difficult to bridge differences.

“However, we can make choices and take actions to build connections, improve communication, and foster understanding.”