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China adds Nio to list of approved vehicle manufactures

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Electric vehicle maker Nio has been added to a Chinese industry ministry database permitting companies to produce vehicles in the country, according to the ministry’s website.

The website gave no details on whether or when a manufacturing licence was granted to Nio, which has since 2018 partnered with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC) to produce electric vehicles on a contract basis.

Nio said in response to a Reuters query that it currently had no information to share.

Receiving a manufacturing licence would clear some uncertainty over the impact on Nio of JAC’s plans to sell some assets belonging to the two factories that make Nio EVs.

The state-backed newspaper China Securities Journal in October reported JAC’s sale plans. Nio said at the time that such a sale would not affect its future production activities.

Granting Nio a production licence also marks a shift for Chinese authorities, which have been cautious about approving new production amid overcapacity and a deepening price war that has pulled in over 40 brands.

Tesla Inc had yet to win a regulatory nod to proceed with its Shanghai plant expansion plan, Reuters reported in June. U.S. luxury EV maker Lucid Group has also been advised of the low likelihood for approval, sources have told Reuters.

To produce and sell cars in China, automakers have to first obtain a permit from the state planner and then the industry ministry. The last EV maker to receive both permits was Shandong-headquartered EV maker Sinogold in May 2019.

Nio ranked ninth in terms of EV sales in the first 10 months in China with 126,067 units, according to data from China Passenger Car Association.

The company has been trying to improve profitability, as it trims its workforce and defers long-term investments to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the face of growing competition.

(Reporting by Cui Zhuzhu, Zhang Yan and Brenda Goh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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