AMSTERDAM, May 23 (Reuters) - Chinese electric carmaker NIO plans to continue its European expansion despite uncertainty over whether the European Union will impose tariffs on Chinese EVs, the company's founder William Li said on Thursday.

"Electric vehicles are very important for positive development of the environment, they should never be used as a political target," Li told reporters as NIO opened its first showroom in Amsterdam.

He said that if the EU does impose substantial tariffs "We will take the most reasonable business decision."

Nio's Dutch expansion comes amid a broader move by Chinese electric vehicle makers into Europe just as the EU considers raising tariffs on imported EVs.

But the bosses of European carmakers are worried about consequences of the EU plans and say stiffer tariffs will do little to protect the industry.

In March, the European Commission started customs registration of Chinese EV imports, meaning they could be hit by tariffs from that point if an ongoing investigation concludes they are receiving unfair state subsidies.

Brussels will inform those Chinese EV makers incurring provisional antisubidy tariffs by June 5.

Shares in Europe's car companies sold off on Wednesday after a Chinese government-linked auto expert said China should increase its tariffs on large gasoline powered cars, which would hit German carmakers.

NIO's new showroom is located in the busiest part of Amsterdam near a bridge by one the city's famous canals.

Known as a luxury brand in China, NIO this month launched a lower-priced Onvo line priced below Tesla's Model Y, and plans a cheaper entry level Firefly brand for 2025.

A differentiator for NIO is that it offers battery swapping, which it says is faster than recharging and ultimately better for vehicle owners.

The company's shares are down 42% in the year to date, as it remains loss making despite increasing sales amid fierce competition on the Chinese market.

EV use is rising sharply in the Netherlands, with sales tripling from 43,000 in 2019 to 128,000 last year, according to industry group BOVAG, or 30% of all new car sales, with Tesla the top-selling brand. (Reporting by Toby Sterling Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman)