If there’s one country that is going make electric vehicle mainstream, it would be China. Why? Acute pollution. That’s why. As an emerging industrial nation and growing population, China has seen horrific pollution. However, unlike developed nations like the U.S.A, its government is hell bent in cleaning up the air, starting with one of the biggest contributors to air pollution: automobiles. It is with this resolve, it gave birth to NIO, an electric car startup, that has just official launched its first mass-produced 7-seater high-performance electric SUV called ES8.
Boasting an all-wheel drive setup, ES8 features an active air suspension across all model range and an all-aluminum body and chassis that provides the rigidity at minimal weight. With a 2-3-2 seating arrangement, ES8 stretches over 5 meters (16.4 feet) long, 2 meters (6.6 feet) across, and has a generous wheelbase of over 3 meters (9.8 feet) that should ensure a roomy interior. It also touts an artificial intelligence system (known as NOMI), advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) with Mobileye EyeQ4 system with Highway Pilot, Traffic Jam Pilot, and automatic emergency braking.
While it is not clear what exactly are the motors resting at the front and rear of the vehicle, NIO said the ES8 yields 480 kW (around 644 HP) of power and a beefy 840 Nm of torque that would allow it to make the century sprint in 4.4 seconds. It may not beat Tesla’s performance, but with a 0-100 figure of 4.4 seconds, it sure beats a lot of cars on the roads and that’s not to mention the instant torque that is available to it. One could only imagine an exhilaration pickup with the ES8. Furthermore, it has a 70-kWh liquid-cooled battery pack that boasts a 2,000-charge life cycle and with a super low drag coefficient 0.29, the ES8 can make over 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a singe charge.
With regards to pricing, ES8 carries a starting sticker of 448,000 RMB (around US$67,740 as of today) which works out to be half of Tesla Model X’s princely asking price of 836,000 RMB (or approximately US$126,40) in China. In addition, like the rest of the EV maker, NIO will also enjoy Beijing’s state subsidies for electric vehicles, which further makes owning a Tesla in China a rather silly decision. That aside, EV will definitely see a rise of ownership in China – thanks in part to the country’s investment in battery charging network.
To sweeten the deal, NIO has, during the launch on Saturday, announced a 1,200 RMB (US$181) a month battery charging plan that will allow ES8 batteries to be swapped in three minutes at the charging stations. There’s even a mobile service to back up its EVs, so owners could have a peace of mind knowing that they won’t be left out in the cold in the event the battery system conks out or should there be any mishap. The “Power Swap” charging stations will grow to over 1,100 and the “Power Mobile” service vehicles to 1,200 by the year 2020.
The positive take away from this announcement and, to some extend, the EV development in China in general, is that when China wants to do something, it will not be affected by any lobbying body. If you are keen, you can pick up more details on NIO official website.