William Li has cofounded and invested in 40 companies across the internet and automotive industries.

William Li grew up in a village in rural China without electricity. He’s co-founded and invested in 40 companies, including premium EV startup Nio.Li is no stranger to his fans, Nio owners can directly contact him via the car’s app.

China is the world’s leading electric vehicle market, and Nio is one of its key players.

The Shanghai-based premium EV company was co-founded in 2014 by its CEO, William Li.

William Li, also known as Bin Li, has been dubbed the “Elon Musk of China” for his push to develop self-driving EVs and his loyal fan base. His company’s annual “Nio Day” drew crowds of 10,000 Nio owners who came to see the latest vehicle, the ET9, unveiled.

Here are eight things to know about the CEO of Nio:

1. Li grew up on a dairy farm

Li has co-founded several companies.

Born in 1974, Li grew up on a dairy farm in China’s agricultural Anhui province, where his village didn’t have electricity until he was in high school.

He gained entry to one of China’s most prestigious universities, Peking University, to study sociology and law. He launched his first company at the age of 21.

He’s since gone on to cofound and invest in 40 companies across the internet and automotive industries — three of these have gone public, per the FT, including Bitauto in 2010 and Nio in 2017.

It’s unclear what Li’s net worth is — though he’s listed as a billionaire in some rankings, he’s not currently included on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

2. He co-founded his first major company in his mid-twenties

Bitauto, a car comparison website, was co-founded by Li in 2000. It was his first major success in the market, and went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010.

In 2020, it was taken private with a $1.1 billion buyout, and Li resigned as CEO to turn more of his attention to Nio.

3. His company is pioneering battery-swapping charging technology

A Nio battery-swapping station.

Li is distinguishing his company from other EV players like Tesla and BYD with battery-swapping technology.

Instead of users plugging in their cars and waiting to charge, they can swap out the dead battery for a fully charged one at a designated station. The process takes just under five minutes.

To manage costs, customers can buy the car without a battery and then pay a monthly subscription to access the swapping stations. It has more than 2,000 stations around China and around 30 in Europe.

There’s still a while to go to build up the infrastructure of this service and it remains more expensive than regular charging.

4. His latest Nio model can shake off snow like a puppy

Camouflaged Nio ET9 shaking off snow

Nio’s new ultra-premium model, the ET9, can independently shake off chunks of snow, clearing the windshield and roof.

Li also demonstrated the vehicle’s stability in a video that showed champagne glasses full of liquid balancing on the front of the car while it drove over bumps.

5. Nio cars come with a hefty price tag

A Nio car parked in front of the NYSE as the company went public

Nio’s premium smart EVs can be more expensive than a Tesla, CNBC reported.

The ET9, which starts shipping in China in 2025, will cost customers $112,000, making it Nio’s most expensive car.

Its mid-size cars, such as the Nio ES7 SUV, are priced at around $68,000, a lot pricier than the Tesla’s Model Y, which comes in the $40,000 range in China.

6. Li’s fans can direct message him anytime they want

The Nio phone was launched last year and connects with Nios smart EVs.

Li wants Nio customers to feel like they’re members of a club.

Anyone who purchases a Nio car can access “Nio Houses” equipped with meeting rooms, lounges, baristas, and supervised kids’ play areas.

Last year, the company launched its own Nio smartphone, which connects to Nio EVs — customers can use the phone to unlock their car, adjust their seat preferences, and activate the car’s self-parking feature.

Nio owners can also directly message Li in the car’s app with feedback. This has meant that some senior execs from the company have faced calls from Li in the middle of the night to implement customer suggestions, per the FT.

7. Nio developed a battery that can last for over 649 miles — and Li livestreamed himself trying it out for 14 hours

The ET7 was powered by Nio’s 150 kWh battery.

In December, Li showcased the EV’s groundbreaking battery lifespan with a livestream of his 14-hour car journey from Shanghai to Xiamen — all done on a single battery charge.

After covering the distance of 1,044 km (649 miles), the NIO ET7 was left with 3% charge.

8. To Li’s dismay, Nio cars are not yet available for sale in the US

Li has expressed dissatisfaction with the US tariffs on Chinese-made EVs.

In an interview with the FT, Li expressed dissatisfaction with the 25% tariffs levied against Chinese-made EVs sold in the US.

He said geopolitical tensions between the US and China shouldn’t impact business. Nio already has ties to the US: it’s listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and most of its investors come from outside China.

But some US manufacturing advocacy groups have called for a block on Chinese EVs being imported from their outposts in Mexico as a threat to domestic industry, Reuters reported. Elon Musk said that “Chinese EVs would pretty much demolish” American automakers if allowed to be sold in the US.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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