Nio loses two executives as challenges to EV business mount

2 min read
The outside of the new Nio store in Shanghai on April 11, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio has lost two members of its management team just days after announcing a recall of more than a quarter of its vehicles in China.

Angelika Sodian, managing director of the company’s business in the United Kingdom, said on LinkedIn over the weekend that she is leaving Nio. Sodian had been with the company for more than four years, with positions in China, Germany, and the UK. Prior to her role as managing director, Sodian was Nio’s human resources director for Europe.

“I have thought about this decision for a long while, but there are certain moments in life when you feel it is time for new priorities, ” she said.

Meanwhile, Zhuang Li, head of Nio’s software team, is leaving the EV company to found a vehicle software company, 36kr reported. Nio’s software teams in Beijing and Shanghai were split prior to Zhuang’s departure, and founder Li Bin will now oversee the business.

Zhuang joined Nio in July 2016 as vice president of software research and development, taking charge of vehicle software design, including digital cockpits and networking services.

Zhuang co-founded internet of vehicle solutions company Meijia Technology, Chinese media previously reported. Public records show that the company was registered in Hong Kong in August 2018. Digital cockpit systems, onboard networking controllers, and voice-enabled in-car operating systems are among its main businesses.

Both Zhuang and Sodian left for personal reasons, a Nio spokesperson told TechNode on Monday.

Their departures come just days after Nio announced a massive recall of nearly 5,000 vehicles as a result of a battery fault that could result in fires. The recall followed three incidents in which Nio vehicles spontaneously combusted, as well as a government order urging Chinese EV makers to conduct checks for potential safety hazards and take necessary precautions, including recalls, to prevent any further incidents.

Nio has faced mounting pressure on its business since the beginning of the year. Apart from a slowdown in the Chinese auto market and economy, the company has fallen victim to government measures to battle overcapacity in China’s bloated automotive sector.

Nio’s share price has fallen by more than 75% since March when it announced that it was abandoning plans to build a production plant in Shanghai’s Jiading District. The move followed a directive from the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top planning agency. The company will now have to wait until US rival Tesla has reached capacity at its plant in Shanghai, which is expected to be completed later this year, before building its own factory in the city.

The company has reported a steady decline in sales. In the first quarter, deliveries dropped to around 4,000 vehicles, down by 50% compared with the fourth quarter of 2018. Nio has suffered from decreasing government subsidies, a macroeconomic slowdown, and the US-China trade war, CFO Louis Hsieh said during an earnings call in May.

Additional reporting by Jill Shen.