Nio, EV startup, is giving Tesla a run for their money as they dive into the battery-powered car market in China; launching their ES8 SUV come 2018.
This bold move will undoubtedly stir up the competition in this market as China has had more EV sales than the United States and Europe over the past two years, with the sales growth continuing to increase.
MSN reported that while Tesla’s revenue in the country has tripled to one billion last year, the company still makes more within the American market. Interestingly enough, an internet company in China, Tencent, purchased five percent of Tesla earlier this year, placing some confidence with the company’s global position within China. Still, this internet company also placed an investment in Nio.
The startup is located in Shanghai, with offices San Jose and Munich, and the idea to release an SUV is a good one, considering the increase in demand for these types of vehicles amongst Chinese drivers that are affluent.
While Nio’s SUV will accommodate seven passengers, has all-wheel drive, and will come with a battery that is swappable; the company has yet to reveal any other specifics about the car, including price. The EV will begin production later in 2017 and the company is partnering up with JAC Motors, an auto manufacturer in China, to work hand-in-hand with the SUV’s development.
Nio’s SUV will come equipped with a huge infotainment area and digital instrument cluster. As per Nio’s U.S. lead, Padmasree Warrior, the company has a goal of becoming a frontrunner when it comes to connected car space. They plan to do this by creating digital cockpits and an AI assistant that will help to control features within the SUV and a driver’s home.
As with Tesla, Nio’s EV will have Level 2 autonomous capability. The company hopes to use figures gathered from the SUV to create Level 4 autonomous software, meaning to move forward to the next level when it comes to cars: self-driving in certain areas. Former Tesla engineer Jamie Carlson is leading this Nio team on this self-driving concept, so it should be interesting to see how quickly they will get to achieving this goal. Nio anticipates selling their ES8 in the United States by 2020, with Level 4 autonomy.