After showing a few autonomous and electric vehicle concepts, NIO has debuted its first model destined for full-scale production. The NIO ES8 is an aluminum-bodied, seven-seat electric SUV now available for pre-order in China.
NIO is aiming this SUV at a performance-seeking crowd. A 70-kilowatt-hour battery powers two motors for an output of 644 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque. The startup says the ES8 can hit 62 mph in 4.4 seconds, although the Tesla Model X P100D can reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
The NIO ES8 comes standard with an adaptive air suspension and an all-aluminum body. The model also boasts a double-A-arm front suspension, multi-link rear suspension, and Brembo brake calipers up front. NIO claims a range of about 220 miles on the European cycle. Recently, NIO launched a battery swapping process that takes just three minutes, a similar idea to the one Tesla explored but never pursued further. NIO is also plotting “Power Mobile” charging concierge services for customers.
Not to be outdone in the tech game, the ES8 features a host of sensors for assisted driving. These sensors include four exterior cameras, a front-facing trifocal camera, five millimeter-wave radars, a driver monitor camera, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Also, it’s the first vehicle in the world to come with Mobileye’s latest EyeQ4 chip technology as well as NOMI, an artificial intelligence system. NIO says its driver assistance system supports over-the-air updates so its vehicles can gain new features as they become available.
The new ES8 will launch with 15 active safety and convenience features including Highway Pilot, traffic jam assist, and automatic emergency braking. The hardware needed for these and other automated driving features will come standard on all ES8 models.
The ES8 starts at 448,000 RMB, which would equate to roughly $67,715 in U.S. dollars.
It was just months ago that NIO showed off its EP9 and EVE concept vehicles. The EP9 debuted with four individual gearboxes and an electric powertrain making 1,341 hp. Meanwhile, NIO’s EVE concept focused on what the interior of a future autonomous vehicle would look like. Although it’s unclear exactly what NIO plans for the U.S., the company has said it wants to introduce an autonomous vehicle in this market by 2020.