Chinese EV-maker Nio launches first smartphone

STORY: Chinese electric vehicle-maker Nio on Thursday (September 21) unveiled its latest product… a phone.

Chief Executive William Li revealed the handset in Shanghai.

It’s linked specifically to the firm’s cars - a first for any Chinese firm - and is meant to boost sales amid ferocious competition.

Li says the phones have over 30 car-specific functions.

Among other things, they can summon vehicles to drive themselves to the owner’s location.

Li has pushed ahead with the project even amid concern from investors that the firm is taking on too much.

Analysts say the company’s main interest may really be in gathering data on users’ behavior.

But Nio has been doubling down on self-developed components such as chips and batteries.

It has also built a fanbase in China by creating exclusive membership clubs.

After sales slumped in the first half of the year, it then saw a rebound in August after one key model was revamped.

Rival Geely has also launched phones, but they aren’t necessarily tied to its autos.

Meanwhile, phone maker Xiaomi plans to start making cars.

As for Nio, it hopes its new products will give it an edge in a domestic market where EVs now account for over a third of all vehicle sales.