Chinese smart EV maker Nio opened its Smart Driving Technology Center in Schönefeld near Berlin this month, the first of its kind outside of China.

There will be 25 onsite engineers working directly on the vehicles.  

Nio’s newest addition brings the firm’s total number of European R&D centres to five; it also has tech centres in Oxfordshire (just outside the city of Oxford), UK and Biatorbágy, Hungary. It opened its Innovation Centre in the centre of Berlin last year – and the latest one brings the total in Germany to three.

While it began life a decade ago in China and is headquartered in Shanghai, at the core of this month’s launch in Germany was a simple message: “From Europe, for Europe.”

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hui Zhang, Vice President, Nio Europe invoked the company’s motto, ‘Blue Sky Coming’.

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“This has been Nio’s promise since our inception in 2014,” he said. “It still remains a profound symbol of what Nio is: a technology enterprise of smart electric [driving] vehicles. Whether it’s in China or in here Europe, we remain steadfast in our promise.”

UK market entry still under wraps

Nio’s R&D presence in UK drew questions on when market entry into Britian was set to happen. Mr Zhang said: “I’ll have to keep you waiting,” but teased that “global expansion is always one of the key strategies for Nio.”

Nio and the EU probe into Chinese EV makers

When asked how Nio was reacting to the European Commission’s anti-subsidy investigation, which was formally started last October, Mr Zhang said the firm had always worked to comply with regulations within the whole of Europe.

“We have very much been co-operating,” adding that Nio was keeping close tabs on developments.

“I believe we are one of the contributors to the [green] transformation here in Europe,” he continued. “Bringing [our] core technologies and power swap stations is an enrichment”.

BYD, Geely and SAIC were selected by the EU Commission’s probe for inspection. Mr Zhang added that Nio “will keep focusing on the strategy we set ourselves: the highest user satisfaction.”

Earlier this month it was announced that the EU is set to begin customs registration of Chinese EV imports. This step is in preparation for possible retroactive tariffs that could be imposed in the future.

The China Chamber of Commerce to the EU said that it was “disappointed” by the announcement.

China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao hosted a roundtable meeting early in April in Paris between the Chinese automakers, China Chamber of Commerce and EU representatives.

He told the meeting that “continuous technological innovation,” was driving the development of Chinese EV companies, and that accusations of “overcapacity” by the United States and Europe were “groundless.”

Nio Europe, Xpeng and Chery were also in attendance of the roundtable, Bloomberg reports.

Berlin is of strategic importance

On the decision of the firm’s latest location, Mr Zhang said: “This is an automotive cluster […] it has better infrastructure, and in the capital area we have enough colleagues, and [it’s where] we can find the young talent.”

He added the center had good connections due to its proximity to Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Mirko Reuter, Nio’s Senior Director AD Europe, will be leading the Smart Driving Technology Centre, added: “It’s an ideal location for us to test in every single [European] country.”

See also:

Nio opens Smart Driving Technology Center for Europe

Nio adds automotive grade GPT to NOMI in-car assistant

ADAS tech testing for Nio in Germany