Chinese Electric Vehicle startup, NIO, is releasing its Tesla rival in 2018 — and it’s amazing. NIO just launched sales of its first vehicle three years after the company was founded, undercutting the price of a rival model from Tesla Inc. Chinese customers can now buy the ES8 SUV for $67,783, compares with $79,500 USD for Tesla’s Model X. The SUV comes with a range of 311 miles on a single charge, the company said late Saturday in Beijing. The seven-seater ES8 can accelerate to over 62 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, according to the company. The braking distance of the SUV, equipped with 5 millimeter wave radars, is 33.8 meters.
The owners of the ES8 can charge their car by swapping batteries at power-swap stations in three minutes or recharge with the help of “Power Mobile” service vehicles that travel to motorists. ES8 is also equipped with Mobileye NV’s EyeQ4 chip, the ES8 also employs NOMI, an artificial intelligence system with functions ranging from adjusting the in-car temperature to communicating with the driver and taking photos. “Electrification of automobiles provides us an opportunity to change lanes to lead,” said William Li, a founder of NIO. “Our goal is to make charging more handy than refueling.”
Just like Tesla, the company is not immune from some significant challenges facing newcomers. “A big problem for Nio is that it doesn’t have its own manufacturing base,” says Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consulting firm Automotive Foresight. Zhang also believes Nio will struggle to compete with the strong reputation of Tesla. “Tesla has premium-quality products and the founder is a legendary figure,” Zhang said. “Investors in Tesla still support Elon Musk even after losing money for over 10 years. “Nio does have more advantages compared to other newcomers in China’s EV market,” he concedes. “However, Nio’s story, history and products are not enough to support a luxury car.”
NIO was founded in 2014 as NextEv by William Li. The company later renamed itself to NIO in 2016. Its website NextEV.com now reroutes to NIO.io.The Shanghai-based startup has several subsidiaries worldwide, one of them in San Jose, California. To date, the company has raised more than $1 billion from investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd. NIO is preparing for its next phase of growth in the world’s biggest electric-car market. Following its latest billion-dollar capital raising last month, Nio was said to be valued at about US$5 billion. In addition to Tesla, the company will be competing against homegrown rivals such as BYD Co., as well as industry giants Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co.
You can watch NIO ES8 here