A Chinese startup electric car maker has just debuted a production SUV, and it looks surprisingly legitimate.
Called the NIO ES8, the all-electric SUV was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. Last year when the automaker came out of nowhere and released its electric EP9 supercar with four-figure horsepower and torque ratings and specs so outrageous they seemed made-up, many were skeptical that this was a valid automaker. This new SUV, however, is proof that NIO is in this business for real. As the brand’s first production mainstream car, its success will determine the automaker’s future.
The full-sized seven-seat SUV has three rows of seats and rides on a wheelbase that is 118 inches long. The length from bumper to bumper is 196 inches, and the entire body and chassis are made from aluminum to keep the weight low.
Not too many specs have been released yet, but the ES8 has electric motors on the front and rear axles providing all-wheel drive and an active air suspension. The battery is also swappable so drivers can change batteries instead of waiting hours for a recharge. The interior is also pretty modern, with the dashboard being dominated by a large tablet-like touchscreen, similar to what Tesla uses.
NIO will launch the ES8 crossover officially at the end of this year and deliveries are expected to begin in 2018. So far, NIO cars will only be sold in China. NIO has also started taking orders for its EP9 supercar, which starts at $1.48-million.