In a lavish ceremony at the Saatchi Gallery in London today, Shanghai-based NextEV announced the NIO brand of electric cars it hopes will soon enough compete against Tesla, and while it was at it, dazzled attendees with its NIO EP9 electric hypercar.
Regarding cars ordinary people may buy, NIO says it will let customers rediscover a “joyful lifestyle” with vehicles delivering superior performance and “a new benchmark for aesthetic design and unique user experiences.”
You may recall NextEV, which has 250 employees in San Jose, in October opened another office for hundreds of engineers to work.
The company was approved by California to begin testing autonomous vehicles, and has about 500 engineers at work on its first mass produced electric car due for global debut in 2017.
Meanwhile, the company with major backing by Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, established more credibility with its EP9 that is literally smashing – course records that is.
Of note is its Oct. 12 lap in just 7:05.12 around the Nürburgring Nordschliefe which soundly beat the previous 7:22 EV record. It also smashed the EV record at France’s Circuit Paul Ricard recording a time of 1m 52.78s, eclipsing the previous record of 2m 40s.
Yes, it’s faster than a Tesla – the company is calling it the “world’s fastest electric car” – and with a Nürburgring lap just 8 seconds behind a Porsche 918 Spyder, that’s a fair statement.
It ought to be faster than a Tesla however, as only six are being made, investors all snapped them up, and if a price were affixed, it would sell for $1.2 million – actual price paid undisclosed – but otherwise it costs enough to buy nine Tesla P100Ds.
What’s so special about this EV?
It has four inboard motors and four individual gearboxes serving up 1-MegaWatt of power, equivalent to 1,341 horsepower.
Acceleration from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) takes 2.7 seconds, 0-124 mph (0-200 km/h) takes 7.1 seconds, quarter mile is 10.1 seconds, and top speed is 195 mph (313 km/h).
With an interchangeable battery system, the EP9 is designed to be charged in 45 minutes and has an advertised range of 265 miles (427 kilometers).
More than a straight-line speedster, this one is meant to go extra fast around the twisties – up to 3G cornering force claimed for the carbon cockpit and chassis which “embodies a new approach to performance vehicle design.”
Aerodynamic tricks and strong structurally rigidity are responsible for what would otherwise defy ordinary cars’ cornering ability no matter how sticky their tires.
How much downforce? At 149 mph (240 km/h), the EP9 is credited with 5,395 pounds (24,000 Newtons) of force pushing the vehicle into the tarmac. That means the EP9 could theoretically drive upside down inside a tunnel as this exceeds the car’s 3,825-pound (1,735 kg) weight.
“Today we launched our electric supercar that broke the record at the Nordschliefe. The NIO EP9 was born to push limits and is the first stage of automotive production for NIO,” said NextEV Founder and Chairman, William Li. “It is a statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles. We believe that when the car ownership experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will become the natural choice for everyone, leading to a more sustainable tomorrow. And with that, our vision of a blue sky will come true.”
Meanwhile, aside from this fantasy car come to life, the company says stay tuned for something you may be able to buy in the next few years, assuming things go to plan.