On Sunday night, Nio founder and CEO, William Li, appeared on the livestream of Wang Han, a famous TV personality, in front of 20 million people. As part of the sponsored appearance, Li introduced Wang to Nio’s ES6 SUV during his 40 minutes. Over 5,000 people signed up for a test drive and 320 made car orders with non-refundable deposits, the company said Monday.

Why it matters: One of the first Chinese automakers to embrace livestreaming during the epidemic, Nio is ramping up efforts with the help of Wang Han, known for being a veteran host at Day Day Up (one of China’s most-viewed talk shows) just days after Tesla made its debut on Chinese livestreaming platforms.

  • With a focus to promote China-made products only, the Sunday livestream was the first-ever one for Wang, a well-liked variety show host known as a key talent at satellite television broadcaster Hunan TV.
  • A major promotion during Wang’s first e-commerce livestream could cost at least RMB 2 million ($281,400), persons familiar with the knowledge told TechNode.
  • Nio declined to comment when contacted by TechNode on Monday.

Details: More than 20 million viewers watched a webcast on Taobao as of Sunday during a 40-minute period session where Nio founder and CEO William Li made his debut as a salesperson for the company’s five-seater electric crossover ES6.

Nio founder and CEO William Li demonstrated Nomi, its in-car AI speaker to Wang Han, a Chinese top variety show host in a livestream on Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao on May 17, 2020. (Image credit: Jill Shen/TechNode)

  • The company on Monday announced it has secured a total of 320 non-refundable deposits, amounting to RMB 128 million ($18 million) in total sales.
  • Nearly 5,300 people booked a slot to test drive Nio’s lineups, priced at RMB 1 as of Sunday.
  • Tesla in mid-April opened its Tmall flagship store with the launch of a similar online campaign of free test drive. This was followed by a webcast featuring a top livestreaming celebrity Viya who presented her experience of test driving Made-in-China Model 3 on Taobao 10 days later.
  • The one-hour show attracted 4 million viewers with more than 2,600 of which ordered for a Model 3 test drive, according to an Alibaba press release.

Context: Nio became the champion among Chinese EV startups last year with deliveries of 20,565 crossovers nationwide, several thousand units more than Baidu-backed WM Motor and Guangzhou-based Xpeng Motors. This was, however, only half of its previous annual sales target.

  • Loss from operations increased by 13% year-on-year to around RMB 11 billion in the past year, compared with more than 90% surge in 2018, as the company have been prioritizing margin improvement by cutting jobs amid a series of restructuring measures, according to Nio’s annual report.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen