Chinese automaker Nio announced Thursday that it will make Norway the first market for its electric cars outside of its home country. Plans include a small network of company-owned showrooms and battery-swapping stations.
Nio plans to open its first Norwegian showroom in Karl Johans Gate, the business district of the capital city of Oslo, in the third quarter of this year, a company press release said. That will be followed by four more showrooms in 2022, located in Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Kristansand.
The Nio ES8 electric SUV will be the first model offered in Norway, with the ET7 flagship sedan scheduled to follow in 2022.
A service and delivery center will open in Oslo in September, with more following in 2022, the company said, adding that it also plans to offer mobile servicing and car pickup-and-delivery service in Norway.
Nio Oslo service center rendering
Nio is unique among automakers in building a full-scale network of battery-swapping stations. The company said it completed its 500,000th battery swap in China last June. By the end of 2022, the company expects to have a battery-swapping network in Norway as well, allowing for transit between five major cities.
The United States almost beat Norway to become Nio's first market outside China. The automaker had plans to enter the U.S., opening California offices and getting listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but withdrew those plans in 2019.
Norway has set itself up to be a world leader in EV adoption, per capita. Its reputation for EV enthusiasm even spawned dueling ads from General Motors and Audi earlier this year. So it's probably a safer bet for a relatively new automaker expanding outside of its home market than the U.S., where EVs still represent a small fraction of new-car sales.
Thanks to its cold weather, Norway also provides a serious real-world extreme-temperature proving ground for EVs and batteries.