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Chinese automaker grabs a U.S. toehold

Alan Neuhauser
Mar 21, 2023
an illustration of a car key that has red buttons printed with stars that mimick the chinese flag

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Nio, a Shanghai-based automaker, has hired a U.S. lobbyist.

Why it matters: The move shows that Chinese automakers will need all the influence they can muster to overcome potential trade barriers and win over American consumers.

Driving the news: Nio has tapped William Ashworth and Ganesh Iyer, per a lobbying registration form spotted by Axios colleague Ben Geman.

  • The pair expects to lobby on "issues that will promote and encourage the sale and development" of Nio's EVs, the filing says.
  • Issues include tax incentives, tariffs, trade restrictions, safety, and data privacy, Ben notes in Generate.

What they're saying: Hiring lobbyists is "a harbinger of capital investments being made," K. Venkatesh Prasad, chief innovation officer at the Center for Automotive Research, tells Axios.

State of play: Nio recently signed a 10-year lease for an office in San Jose, Calif.

  • The company reportedly aims to begin selling passenger vehicles in the U.S. as soon as 2025.

Context: Chinese automakers have become the world's largest car and EV manufacturers by volume.

  • The country is on track to overtake Japan as the biggest vehicle exporter.

What's next: This isn't exactly happy news for automakers already in the U.S.

  • China's EV manufacturers "come with not just the technical capabilities and the manufacturing capabilities but also the business capabilities," Prasad says.

The bottom line: More competition for automakers is coming. For consumers staring down eye-watering car prices, more competition is a good thing.

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