Shares of Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio (NIO -4.99%) were trading lower on Thursday, under pressure amid a sell-off of luxury goods makers on concerns that China may take new actions to limit personal income and redistribute wealth.
As of 10:45 a.m. EDT, Nio's American depositary shares were down about 4.2% from Wednesday's closing price.
Hermès International, LVMH Moët Hennessy, Gucci owner Kering, and Ferrari were among the big luxury names trading sharply lower on Thursday, after China's government signaled that a crackdown on income inequality is coming.
The goal was announced in a readout from an economic planning meeting attended by China's president, Xi Jinping, on Tuesday that was reported in Chinese state media on Thursday. It follows a series of steps by the government to rein in some of the country's fastest-growing online businesses, including ride-hailing giant DiDi Global, as part of Xi's broader campaign to reduce poverty in the world's most populous nation.
What does that have to do with Nio? While it isn't playing in the same lofty market segments as Hermès or Ferrari, its products are priced and positioned as upscale vehicles and direct rivals to Tesla. If Chinese consumers are urged to avoid status symbol purchases, demand for the sleek high-tech vehicles built by Nio (and Tesla) could well soften.
Right now, that's just a possibility. But it's a possibility that was almost certainly contributing to Nio's share price decline on Thursday.
Electric vehicle investors have been relieved to see that Nio, as a high-tech industrial company, hasn't had to face the kinds of consequences doled out by China's government against DiDi and others. But restrictions on income and consumer spending could crimp the company's growth -- particularly if consumers feel the need to stick with simpler vehicles for a while.