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NIO unveils its first production electric vehicle: 7-seater SUV with battery swap

After unveiling its ‘EVE’ concept, an all-electric and autonomous vehicle, and raising ‘up to $600 million’ in latest round led by Baidu, NIO is now unveiling its first “production vehicle” at the Shanghai Auto Show today.

The vehicle is called NIO ES8 and it is a full size 7-seater electric SUV.

While NIO presents itself as a “global automaker” with operations in California and London, the company is primarily backed by Chinese interests and their first manufacturing capacity will be in China.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that their first vehicle is aimed that the Chinese market.

NIO Founder and Chairman, William Li, said:

“Today we unveiled our new production vehicle, the NIO ES8, to the China market. 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.”

Here’s the NIO ES8 unveiled today:

NIO didn’t go into the details about the specifications of the vehicles and said that there will be another unveiling later this year, but it did released a few details:

“The NIO ES8 is a full size 7-seater electric SUV with a 2-3-2 seating arrangement. The length of the vehicle is over 196 inches long and the wheelbase is over 118 inches long. The ES8 has an all-aluminum body and chassis, front and rear motors with electric all-wheel drive, and active air suspension. The ES8 features the “design identity” of every NIO vehicle: the X-bar and signature “Spark Beat” tail lights. The vehicle’s swappable battery will provide a charging experience that surpasses refuelling at gas stations. The manufacturing and supply chain that will produce the ES8 is already in place.”

The battery swap aspect is probably the most interesting since it’s something that has been unsuccessfully tried before. Tesla and Better Place both showed that it is technically feasible, but they couldn’t offer a good business model around it.

It will be interesting to see NIO’s approach here,

They say that NIO ES8 prototypes are already being tested:

“The vehicle has been tested in Yakeshi in Inner Mongolia, where temperatures can reach -22 degrees Fahrenheit as well as Melbourne and Mildura, Australia where temperatures can reach over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.”

The vehicle program is apparently on an accelerated pace since they claim that production and deliveries will “begin next year.” NIO is one of the few new companies that recently managed to secure permits for electric vehicle production in China.

Additionally, the company also announced that they are taking reservations for their second batch of the NIO EP9, a 1 MW supercar with 265 miles range & top speed of 194 mph unveiled last year. The first 6 vehicles were produced for investors, but they plan to custom make 10 more opened for purchase at a $1.48 million price tag.

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