A vehicle's name is one of the most important ways for a potential buyer to identify it, and automakers are quick to protect this branding. Audi just won such a case when a Munich court ruled that the Nio ES6, ES7, and ES8 were too similar to the S6, S7, and S8 available from the Four Rings.
Nio may no longer advertise vehicles with these names in Germany. If a violation occurs, the company's managing director could face a fine of 250,000 euros ($271,532 at current exchange rates) or six months' imprisonment, according to Automobilwoche.
2023 Audi S6 Design Edition Package
Nio doesn't yet sell the ES6 or ES7 in Germany. The ES7 is available there, and the company already changed the name to EL7.
An English translation of a portion of the court ruling announcement from the original German says:
"The board explained that it is therefore to be expected that a not inconsiderable part of the relevant section of the public will understand the "E" in the contested sign and thus the only difference between the two signs as descriptive in this sense and only as a reference to see the engine type of the vehicle. There is a risk that consumers will assume that the "ES 6" is the "S 6" in the electric version, and that the two vehicles are from the same manufacturer. There is thus a risk of confusion through association that goes beyond pure association."
This dispute isn't over quite yet. In a statement to Automobilwoche, A Nio representative says that the company intends to appeal the verdict.
Audi brought the case against Nio in 2022. The EV maker initially responded by taking the ES6 and ES8 badges off the vehicles when showing them.
Nio doesn't yet sell vehicles in the United States, but it wants to. According to a report from 2022, the EV company could arrive in the US in 2025. The brand started in China and began exporting products to Norway in 2021. It launched in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark in 2022.