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Nio targets Volkswagen ID 2 and Renault 5 with Firefly EV brand

Chinese electric car maker Nio will launch a new budget brand codenamed Firefly into European markets in 2024, aimed at small cars the size of the Volkswagen Polo.

Firefly – which will be launched alongside another new EV sub-brand known as Alps – was “designed and developed for Europe”, Lihong Qin, president and co-founder of Nio, told journalists on a call on Friday.

“Firefly is going to give us smaller cars but with advanced technology,” Qin added.

Qin singled out Volkswagen, which is developing the ID 2 small electric hatchback for sale in 2025 for an entry target price of €25,000. Other rivals will be China’s BYD, which has just launched the Dolphin small EV, as well as Renault, which next year will launch the new retro-styled 5 electric hatchback.

Nio is currently developing a new version of its battery swapping platform to be able to accept smaller batteries that will work with its more mass-market-focused brands, as well as newly-signed battery swap partners Geely and Changan, Qin said.

The new platform would use an 800V architecture that would facilitate faster charging in the absence of a nearby swap station.

Nio currently sells cars in five European markets, including Germany, with its premium-angled electric cars such as the ET5 Tourer. However, it now wants to move into the mainstream segment, both with Firefly and Alps. 

The company’s brand positioning would see Nio compete against established premium marques such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi, while Alps would square up against Tesla with direct rivals for the Model Y and Model 3, Qin said.

Alps is also scheduled to come to Europe.

Nio has strongly hinted that it wants to enter the UK market, but that now won’t happen until 2025 at the earliest. 

“Right-hand-drive prototypes do exist, but we will first focus on understanding and establishing ourselves in [other] European markets.” CEO William Li told Chinese media recently.


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