NIO ES8 Aluminium: Li Bin’s Genius Aluminum Strategy (no other country can copy NIO!)

Summary: There are only 3 countries in the world that can make more than 10 million all-aluminum Electric Vehicles per year.  NIO happens to be in one of them that can make 100 million per year, and Li Bin has taken full advantage of this fact. No other country can copy NIO at a large scale since there is simply not enough aluminum (unless heavy imports are done which will further drive up the price of aluminum).

Two of the above 3 countries have to use up their entire aluminum production to achieve 10 million all-aluminum cars, which is not practical since there are other important uses for aluminum besides cars.

NIO ES8 Aluminium

NIO’s CEO Li Bin has made the genius decision for the NIO ES8 to be completely aluminum, or to be precise, the ES8 uses 96.4% aluminum, the highest percentage of aluminum used in an all-aluminum body in mass production worldwide.

The clear benefit of aluminum over steel is that it is lighter. The NIO ES8 uses an all-aluminum frame, which is about 40% lighter than traditional steel bodies (density of steel 7.8 g/cm3> aluminum 2.7 g/cm3).

With a lighter body, an all-aluminum car would be able to travel further than a steel car per unit of battery power. It is very clear that an all-aluminum car is superior to a steel car.

The NIO ES8’s body-in-white weight is 13.6% of the total vehicle weight, which is 2460 kg. That means, the weight of aluminum in one NIO ES8 car is  approximately 13.6%x2460 = 335 kg.

The genius of Li Bin’s strategy is that no country can copy this all-aluminum strategy on a large scale, as shown in the calculations below. To further add to this, Li Bin must have thought and planned for this very early, well before the factory of ES8 was built.

How many All-Aluminum Cars can each Country make per year

The yearly aluminum production of each country is taken from Wikipedia: List of countries by primary aluminium production.

China produces 36,000,000,000 kg of aluminum in a year. Since one NIO ES8 contains 335 kg of aluminum, that means that:

China can make 36,000,000,000/335 = 107 million aluminum cars per year

Similar calculation for India, India produces 3,700,000,000 kg of aluminum in a year. Since one NIO ES8 contains 335 kg of aluminum, that means that:

India can make 3,700,000,000/335 = 11 million aluminum cars per year

We do the other calculations in the table below. Note that India and Russia have to use up 100% of their aluminum in order to exceed the 10 million aluminum cars target per year. Other countries cannot make more than 10 million all-aluminum cars even if they use up all their aluminum production.

Rank Country/Region Aluminium Production (thousands of metric tons) No. of Aluminum Cars per Year (millions)
1 China 36,000 107
2  India 3,700 11
3  Russia 3,600 11
4  Canada 2,900 9
5  United Arab Emirates 2,700 8
6  Australia 1,600 5
7  Bahrain 1,400 4
8  Norway 1,300 4
9  United States 1,100 3
10  Saudi Arabia 932 3
Number of all-aluminum cars each country can make at the maximum (per year).

NIO Car Battery Swap Videos

Interesting real life video of NIO car battery swap. Interestingly, the NIO car BaaS battery swap center in Shanghai is right next to its competitor Tesla’s Supercharger! The battery swap section is right at 8:55.

The above YouTube channel is a reliable and unbiased one, not set up specifically to promote NIO. It has been around for years, showing how the channel’s owners who are just in their 40s “retire” in Malaysia. They are currently back in Shanghai, not sure if it is permanent or just temporary to avoid the COVID situation in Malaysia.

By the way, in the video, the people are discussing how a house in Shanghai costing 6 million RMB (or almost 1 million USD) is “cheap”! This shows how rich the people in Tier 1 cities in China are, buying an electric car is no big deal for them, as long as the quality is good.

The video above is another authentic video from a real life NIO owner, performing battery swap in another Tier 1 city in China, Shenzhen. The entire battery swap process takes around 4.5 minutes, provided there is no long queue. This is just as fast or even faster than refilling petrol.

Battery swap can be considered as a moat of the company NIO. It is not easy for other car companies to suddenly switch to battery swapping since that would involve significantly redesigning their car or factory.

NIO cars can also charge the battery the conventional way, in addition to battery swapping. Another advantage of battery swapping is that older NIO car models can easily “upgrade” to a newer battery, for example from 70 kWh to 100 kWh.

Check out NIO’s CEO Li Bin launching the new 100 kWh battery in the video below, just recently in November 2020. The 100 kWh battery is on par with Tesla’s Model S.

Tesla vs NIO (NIO is the only other company to follow Tesla’s “Master Plan”)

Tesla is a famous company founded by billionaire genius Elon Musk. Elon Musk is the CEO and founder of multiple high-tech companies such as Tesla, SpaceX and Open AI.

It is highly recommended for gifted kids and parents to read about Elon Musk and his unique childhood and personal traits. Currently, there is a promotion where you can listen to the bestselling audiobook free if you Try Audible Plus.


Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Top seller on Amazon)

NIO vs Tesla

Firstly, we introduce the founder of NIO, Li Bin, as a comparison to Tesla’s Elon Musk. Li Bin was born in a poor cow farmer’s household in Anhui, China. His home did not have electricity until he was around 10 years old. His brilliance was noticed early in life, where he emerged the top scholar in the Anhui province in the Gaokao exams and entered the best university in China, Peking University. In Peking University, he majored in sociology, and minored in law and computer science.

Before NIO, Li Bin has founded or cofounded multiple successful companies, including:

  • Bitauto (易车), a leading provider of internet content & marketing services, and transaction services for China’s automotive industry.
  • MoBike, a bike sharing platform in China.

Under Li Bin, NIO is the only other EV company to follow Elon Musk’s tried and tested Master Plan:

Tesla’s “master plan”, as iterated by Musk in 2006 was: Build sports car. Use that money to build an affordable car. Use that money to build an even more affordable car. While doing above, also provide zero-emission electric power generation options.

Source: Wikipedia

NIO EP9

The first step of Tesla’s “master plan” is to build a sports car. NIO has already built the EP9 car which is one of the world’s fastest supercar. It has broken multiple records, and can reach a top speed of 350 km/h.

NIO EC6

True to the “Master Plan”, NIO has next built more affordable cars, such as the latest NIO EC6. The EC6 is a fully-electric mid-size luxury crossover SUV, just announced in late 2019 by NIO.

NIO vs Tesla China

NIO is initially aiming for a share in China’s enormous EV (Electric Vehicle) market, which is the world’s biggest market for EVs. Subsequently, it has plans to expand into Europe and the rest of the world.

NIO does not have its own factory currently (it has a joint factory with the state-owned JAC Motors in Hefei). This may change in the future. The JAC-NIO factory is impressive, and has up to 97.5% automation rate.  Note that Apple also doesn’t have its own factory, hence not having a factory can’t be said to be a fatal flaw of NIO.

NIO Future Plan and Potential

NIO’s future plan is to produce more models of cars, including two sedans (ET5 and ET7), as well as a minivan (EF9) and another SUV (ES7).

NIO focuses a lot on good service, and provides several unique services, most notably BaaS (Battery as a Service). BaaS allows NIO cars to swap their batteries, which is currently much faster than charging. In addition, most Asian countries, including top tier cities in China, simply do not have enough space for a charging station for each household. Hence, BaaS will be a great differentiating factor which gives NIO an edge over its competitors.

As for NIO’s potential, just watch this video on top 30 most industrialized countries in the world. NIO is the premier high end electric vehicle manufacturer in China, and all signs are pointing to it having a great potential in the future (if things go smoothly).

NIO Moat

A moat is a key competitive advantage that sets a company apart from its competitors. NIO’s first moat is its unique BaaS. Since a car’s model cannot easily change (due to the factories’ fixed specification), should BaaS battery swapping become the trend, NIO will be the sole company that provides it and will have at least a few years’ lead ahead of its competitors.

NIO’s second moat is its infrastructure and domestic home ground advantage. NIO’s autonomous driving system is naturally trained in China’s traffic conditions. Even in the event of slightly inferior autonomous driving technology (which is still highly debatable), the end result would still be better than a top driving system trained in another country’s very different traffic conditions, including different driver behavior and different road signs.

NIO backed by government

Many signs have shown directly or indirectly that NIO is backed by the government. Firstly, JAC Motors with whom NIO has a joint factory with, is a Chinese state-owned automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturer.

Secondly, NIO is the first car company to cooperate with State Grid EV service to build 100 charging and battery swap stations by 2021. This is good news for NIO since the State Grid EV being owned by the State/government has good potential to select excellent locations for the battery swap stations which will further strengthen’s NIO’s BaaS network.