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Tesla Challenger NIO Announces its First EV Firmware Updates Outside of China, Follows the Addition of an English Language Option for Customers in Norway

Tesla Challenger NIO Announces its First EV Firmware Updates Outside of China, Follows the Addition of an English Language Option for Customers in Norway

Author: Eric Walz   

Electric vehicle startup NIO Inc, which is one of Tesla's main competitors in China, has plans for global expansion, starting in Europe. NIO began shipping its ES8 SUV to Europe for the first time last year, beginning with Norway.

NIO announced it received approval to sell its fully-electric ES8 SUV in Europe in June 2021, which paves the way for the company's expansion for the first time outside of its home country of China. 

Now NIO has pushed out its first over-the-air firmware update for its vehicle in Norway, including the ability to change the vehicle's system language to English or Norwegian. It's the first time that NIO pushed an over-the-air firmware update (FOTA) to its electric vehicles outside of China.

Norway has the highest EV adoption rate in the world, with approximately 75% of all new cars being fully-electric or hybrid vehicles, so its an important market for electric vehicle manufacturers like NIO.

The available English language settings in NIO's vehicle's will help support its expansion outside of China, as the company looks to take on Tesla and its domestic rival XPeng in the global EV market.

Starting Jan 14, NIO customers in Norway can receive its latest smart operating system named "Aspen 3.0.5 NO" via an OTA update. The vehicle OS was developed on the first-generation technology platform (NT1.0) known as Aspen. Currently, the ES8s in Norway are all equipped with Aspen 3.0.0 NO. It was exclusively developed for users in Norway, NIO said. 

Aspen 3.0.5 NO has new features to improve user experience in cold weather, including a manual battery warmup feature and extending the duration of cabin preconditioning system, according to NIO. It also includes other user experience (UX) enhancements, such as a power assistant that helps drivers find nearby EV charging facilities, as well as a new feature called "NOMI Debug", which allows users to send the automaker feedback by recording a quick voice note.

NOMI is NIO's AI-powered in-vehicle voice assistant. It can communicate with passengers in Norway in English or Norwegian.

ES8_G1.F-eu_017 (1).jpg

NIO's ES8 electric SUV.

In addition to the firmware updates for vehicles in Norway, NIO's electric vehicles support large scale over-the-air software updates, which is a model pioneered in the auto industry by Tesla. To date, NIO said it released 184 new vehicle features and 382 enhancements that were delivered via OTA software updates. 

Following NIO's expansion to Norway, NIO said it plans to launch models in more European and North American countries. Each region will come with software and update services tailored to the local language and market, according to NIO.

In December, NIO held its annual "NIO Day" in Suzhou, where the company unveiled its latest electric vehicle, the ET5 sedan. The ET5 is NIO's fifth model, following the ES8 SUV in 2018, ES6 compact SUV, EC6 fastback and full-size ET7 flagship sedan.

Deliveries of the new ET5 are expected to start in Sept 2022. 

The mid-size ET5 is poised to compete with the Tesla Model 3 and other similar sized EVs. The battery-powered sedan is priced at RMB 328,000 (US$51,445) before subsidies, and RMB 258,000 (US$40,466) with BaaS (Battery-as-a-Service). 

NIO launched its unique BaaS monthly subscription plan in Aug 2020. It allows customers to pay a monthly fee for the battery that's separate from the vehicle's purchase price. The BaaS plan is designed to lower the upfront purchase price of an electric vehicle, so its more affordable. 

Following Norway, NIO plans to further expand in Europe, including to Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark by the end of this year.

NIO was founded in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneur William Bin Li, who serves as the company's CEO. In 2020, Forbes estimated Li's net worth to be US$8.1 billion. Mr Li is often referred to as China's Elon Musk. NIO is also backed by Chinese technology company Tencent Holdings Ltd. 

NIO made headlines when it became the first Chinese EV startup to go public in the U.S. The company launched its high-profile U.S. IPO in Aug 2018. The company's stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange unde the symbol "NIO". 

The stock is down 7.53% to $30.95 since the start of the new year.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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