Chinese electric carmaker NIO has unveiled its first-ever mass market model, the ES8 SUV.
The ES8 is a full-size, seven-seat SUV with a pure electric drivetrain good for an estimated 220 miles of range. With a motor mounted both on the front and rear axle, the ES8 boasts standard all-wheel drive, which is joined by standard active air suspension. Those motors are good for a combined output of 644 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque, which motivates the ES8 from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The body and chassis are also constructed entirely from aluminum to help keep weight to a minimum.
Unlike other automakers that are pursuing fast-charging to address the recharging problem presented with EVs, NIO has gone a different route. The ES8 will have a swappable battery that the company says will “provide a charging experience that surpasses refuelling at gas stations.” It’s not exactly clear just how this battery swap will be done, nor how easy it will be to perform, but we’re definitely intrigued.
NIO says the manufacturing and supply chain that will produce the ES8 is already in place. The SUV will launch in an official capacity later this year before going on sale sometime in early 2018. Pricing starts at 448,000 Chinese yuan, which is equivalent to about $68,000 USD – half the price of a Tesla Model X in China. NIO has plans to sell the vehicle in the US, but that’s still quite a long way out as we understand it.
In addition to launching the ES8, NIO also opened the order books for its EP9 hypercar this week. The first six EP9s were made for a batch of NIO investors, but a second batch of ten vehicles will now be built at a price of 1.48 million USD each. That might sound like a lot for an obscure Chinese electric car, but the EP9 is the real deal. It lapped the Nordschleife in just 6m 45.900s (faster than a Porsche 918) and makes a ridiculous 1,341 horsepower between its four electric motors.
“Today we unveiled our new production vehicle, the NIO ES8, to the China market,” said NIO chairman William Li. “It is another statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles. I am proud of our relentless focus on vision and action. From track to road, NIO continues to achieve major milestones every year.”