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China EV maker Nio urges openness in US speech amid tensions

China EV maker Nio urges openness in US speech amid tensions

SHANGHAI, April 14 (Reuters) – Chinese electric vehicle
(EV) maker Nio’s founder called for openness in a rare speech in
the United States, where politicians have been seeking to
further restrict China’s access to the world’s second-largest
auto market.

William Li, speaking at an event at Harvard University on
Saturday, said rapid EV growth in China resulted from an «open
and competitive» market where «all products are welcome
regardless of their brands or origins».

He cited Tesla’s success in China, where
billionaire Elon Musk’s automaker has sold 1.36 million EVs in
the past three years, adding its presence boosted EV penetration
and energised the industry.

«Competition will lead to greater investment, longer time to
break even, less margin for mistakes and lower chances of
success,» Li said, according to a transcript of his speech
provided by the company.

«However, we do not expect China to adopt policies to
protect domestic players because we also see the other side of
the coin, where openness will ultimately benefit industries and
sustainability, and make the best companies even better.»

Tensions are rising between China and the West over Chinese
EV exports, which Washington and Brussels say are heavily
subsidised by the state and could harm domestic automakers.

A European Union is investigating Chinese EV makers such as
BYD, Geely and SAIC could lead
to tariffs over the subsidies.

Few Chinese-made EVs are sold in the U.S. market, where they
already face steep tariffs. China’s biggest EV maker, BYD, said
it had no plans to sell its cars into the country.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is considering raising
tariffs on Chinese EVs, auto executives have told Reuters.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Sherrod
Brown have highlighted concerns over cheap Chinese EVs,
including on national security grounds.

Li has said Nio was studying the feasibility of
selling into the U.S. on a quarterly basis. In the Chinese
market, with a lineup priced from 298,000 yuan ($42,000) for the
premium segment, the automaker sold 30,053 EVs in the first
three months, compared to 132,420 vehicles sold by Tesla.

($1 = 7.2371 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Zoey Zhang)