The Nio normal: Electric carmaker plugs buyers into lifestyle app

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The Nio normal: Electric carmaker plugs buyers into lifestyle app

Nio, China’s answer to Tesla, uses an online store to stoke brand loyalty and interact with customers

Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe

In Shanghai, aerospace executive Lu Hao didn’t just buy a sleek electric SUV from Nio, China’s answer to Tesla. He bought Nio’s whole vision of a future where social media, e-commerce and the daily commute converge in one lifestyle app.

In the morning, the 31-year-old eats cereal bought from the automaker’s Nio Life online store while chatting on its app with other Nio owners. He wears Nio gear for the drive to and from work, and in the evenings relaxes at home with a glass of Nio wine and more chat with Nio owners about how to get the best out of their cars.

“Buying Nio stuff has been a part of my daily life,” said Lu. “The prices are good and it is a habit to wear Nio clothes to events.” Over the past two years he has spent over 220,000 yuan (R486,000) on Nio Life products, on top of the 470,000 yuan (R1m) he forked out to buy his ES8 SUV to replace a Ford Mondeo petrol-fuelled sedan...

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