The refreshed Tesla Model 3 attracted dozens of onlookers at the Munich Auto Show in Germany, including a surprise guest and an executive from a fellow automaker.
William Li, the founder and CEO of Chinese automaker NIO, was spotted at the Tesla Model 3 Highland display during the Munich Auto Show on Wednesday. One of the photos shows Li inspecting the interior of the 2024 Model 3’s door, while he can be seen standing off to the side talking on the phone in another one of the photos.
— Marcel Münch 🇨🇳📉📈 (@_mm85) September 6, 2023
The news comes after NIO has been accused of copying some of Tesla’s design choices and business plans in the past, including its hopes to build autonomous driving software and to eventually debut a Robotaxi ride-sharing service, stated in 2019. NIO is a direct competitor to Tesla in the robust Chinese auto market, with a number of the automaker’s vehicles competing in similar segments as the U.S. automaker.
The NIO ET7 sedan, for example, competes with the Tesla Model S in the luxury segment, while the company’s ES7 SUV launched last year as a rival to the Model Y. In 2021, NIO launched the ET5 sedan, which is a sedan and is considered a competitor to the Model 3. Tesla originally launched the Model 3 in 2017, and this is the first time the company has refreshed the vehicle’s design.
NIO has also been called a formidable electric vehicle (EV) opponent to Tesla in the Chinese market by many. The automaker has also separated itself from the typical charging model through the use of battery swap stations, a concept that Tesla abandoned as far back as 2016. These stations switch out a vehicle’s battery more quickly than fast chargers are able to, though Tesla has constantly reiterated that it believes charging is a better model.
Tesla still leads the Chinese EV market by a wide margin, though a number of automakers have begun chipping away at the company’s market share. Between January and August, Tesla sold 624,983 Shanghai-built vehicles, marking a roughly 56 percent increase year over year.