Currently reading: Nio still on track for UK launch after departure of boss
Chinese firm says it's still "committed to Europe" after exit of UK and German bosses and in light of new EV tariffs

Nio has reaffirmed its commitment to launching in the UK, after its UK boss left the firm with no replacement lined up. 

Matt Galvin left the firm last month for rival Polestar, leaving the top job unoccupied and raising questions over the Chinese EV brand’s long-mooted plans for a UK entry. 

Galvin was also Nio's head of European sales, leading operations in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. 

Marius Hayler, boss of Nio's German operations, has also joined Polestar, casting more uncertainty on the brand's plans for its wider European business – particularly in light of the heavy tariffs that the EU is set to apply to imported Chinese EVs from next month. 

However, Nio has told Autocar that it has no plans to exit the European market and remains on track for expansion into the UK. 

In a statement sent to us, it said it "is here to stay and remains committed to Europe and its expansion within the market".

It added: "In the UK, Nio is continuing its preparations for entry into the market, with the date and models yet to be confirmed.

"We thank Matt Galvin for his support as managing director within the market and as head of European sales across the wider team, and wish him luck in his new role.

"We will share more information on the UK date and models when available.

"Since Nio came to Europe in 2022, it has launched six different models and established a game-changing Power Swap Station network. We will continue to offer our evolving range of smart EVs, servicing, and warranty support, alongside our innovative charging and swapping solutions.

"Nio remains committed to supporting users across Europe now and in the future."

Galvin had been at Nio for two years, having previously spent six years as commercial director at Volvo UK. Before that, he headed up used car operations for Mercedes-Benz and previously worked in the remarketing division at Renault. 

He was charged with laying the framework for Nio to launch in the UK, following its arrival in those other European markets, in line with the company’s plan to sell cars in more than 25 countries by 2026.

Last year, Nio’s European boss Hui Zhang suggested launching in the UK by 2025 was a priority, but Galvin had earlier offered a more cautious outlook: “We’re extremely keen to launch, but we want to make sure we only launch when we’re ready and we have the cars, partners that can service the cars and the ability to offer a great community experience.

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“The benefit of being in the second wave of expansion is that we can learn from the initial European launch. We’ve learned how important infrastructure is and that preparation in that area is key to making sure we offer a user experience that is fantastic from day one.”

It had been suggested that Nio wouldn't launch in the UK without establishing a network of its trademark battery swap stations – a key "differentiating factor" from other EV brands, Galvin said – and a number of dedicated ‘Nio House’ dealerships from which it would sell cars directly to customers. 

Galvin left before those have come to fruition, however, and Nio's statement does not give any indication of a launch timeline.

Nio is facing a stiff 21% import tariff on all cars it sells in Europe from July, under a new framework set up by the EU to compensate for significant state subsidisation of Chinese EV manufacturing. 

The brand earlier said, however, that its commitment to the EV market in Europe is "unwavering", adding: "We will continue to serve our users and explore new opportunities within Europe despite protectionism."

Notably, the UK hasn't yet moved to impose tariffs on Chinese EVs, but one senior automotive executive recently told Autocar the country "is going to have to follow" the EU, "otherwise all the ships will be diverted to the UK". 

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Many manufacturers – including BYD, Dongfeng, Mini, Polestar and Volvo – are moving EV production from China to Europe to circumvent the heavy fees, but Nio hasn't indicated plans to do the same. 

Having recently revealed the first EV from its new family-focused brand Onvo, Nio is gearing up to launch a new line of Europe-focused, value-oriented EVs under the Firefly brand, but it isn't yet clear where it plans to build them.

Galvin joins Polestar to replace previous UK and Ireland MD Jonathan Goodman, who is retiring after three decades in the automotive industry.

Goodman oversaw a period of rapid growth for the four-year-old brand, which sold 4000 cars in 2021 and 12,500 last year, and laid the foundations for the launch of the new 3 and 4 SUVs, which are predicted to dramatically boost Polestar's sales figures. 

Galvin said: "I'm delighted to be taking the role of managing director of Polestar UK and Ireland at such a pivotal time for the brand. As we move from a single car line-up to a three-car brand and with bold plans for growth over the next few years, it couldn’t be more exciting time to be assuming the role.  

“I very much look forward to working with the existing Polestar UK and Ireland teams, and we wish Jonathan a long and healthy retirement.” 

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: Deputy editor

Felix is Autocar's deputy editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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