Media were impressed with the 80-million-yuan lavish launch event for the ES8 in Wukesong Venue.
There is no doubt NIO raised more investment and spent more money than any other automotive start-up in China. Since its establishment, NIO has raised more than US $2 billion. Its investors are Internet giants like Tencent, Baidu, JD.com and investment companies like Hillhouse Capital, SHUNNEXTEV, Sequoia Capital, Yuyue Capital, Temasek, New Bridge Capital and IDG Capital. NIO was valued at about $5 billion after its D round financing of US $1 billion.
Staggering competition for equipment was the highlight.
At the ceremony last night, Li Bin was candid about the important parameters of the ES8, including some highlights and shortcomings.
- Dimensions: 5,022mm * 1,962mm * 1,753mm, wheelbase 3,010mm, seven seats, wind resistance coefficient 0.29.
- Chassis: Active air body control as standard equipment in whole line-up
- Power: Equipped with a double motor, maximum power output 480 KW and maximum torque 840 N/m, 0-100km/h acceleration 4.4s.
- Battery: Equipped with 70kwh liquid cooling thermostatic battery pack and a VDA vehicle gauge square core, which has a lifecycle of 2,000 times.
- Driving range: The maximum range is more than 500km at 60km/h, and the NEDC range is 355km.
- Charging: It takes one hour to charge to 80 percent in fast charging mode; and it takes 8 hours to fully charge the car in slow charging mode.
The product highlights of ES8 are where it differs from Tesla.
The car feels like a premium vehicle. Most Tesla drivers are impressed by its great performance but note the less-than-satisfying interior. NIO focused on the ES8’s interior. The car uses NAPPA leather and specially has a queen seat as the passenger seat, which can move the back and adjust the incline. It’s like what passengers enjoy in first class on an airplane. Meanwhile, NIO also made some detailed design on the the center storage console, adding a wireless charging function near the driver.
Regarding autonomous driving, NIO has a deep collaboration with Mobileye. Its driving assistant experience may be better than the Tesla Model X. The ES8 is the world’s first mass-produced car with the Mobileye EyeQ4 chip, which has eight times the computing power of the EyeQ3-powered Audi A8. The Audi A8 is the world’s first mass-produced car with L3 senior driving assistant capability.
At the launch event, NIO announced all ES8s would be equipped with autonomous driving hardware, five millimeter-wave radar (three at the front and two in the rear), three forward-direction cameras, four surrounding cameras that offer a 360-degree view and one camera monitoring the inside of the car.
Four years ago, Tesla created the first button-free oversized touchscreen as its central control unit. NIO has a more comprehensive interactive combination: a digital instrument cluster, 10.4-inch vertical control panel and HUD. This combination allows users to control the vehicle by three ways, namely touching the screen in the car, using in-car voice interaction and a mobile phone app. To enrich the experience, NIO also provides a cute robot.
The main thing is its battery replacement program. Tesla uses supercharging stations which can fully charge cars within one hour as the main way to solve its EV charging problem. NIO came up with a more science-fiction approach: battery replacement. The plan is to make power stations as large as three cars that can replace a battery in three minutes.
According to the plan, NIO will deploy at least 1,100 replacement stations in major cities according to a 3km service radius by 2020. Mobile charging cars, which work on the same principle as charging pals, can charge cars within 10 minutes to provide another 100km of travel. NIO has deployed hundreds of such charging cars. By 2020, NIO will have deployed at least 1,200 mobile charging cars nationwide. It will launch its “powering up” service later.
These differences may be why ordinary users choose ES8 over Tesla. After all, for most users, their requirement for a new energy car is ample space and driving distance. As for acceleration, the ES8 can accelerate to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds, which is fast enough for use on urban highways.
Although ES8 is a domestic electric vehicle, it is probably the most cost-effective electric 7-seat SUV.
NIO is obviously the most expensive domestic car, but why do so many people want it?
Without subsidies, the basic ES8 costs 448,000 yuan. The first 10,000 cars are its Founders Edition. These cars come fully loaded and cost 548,000 yuan without subsidies, or 475,400 yuan with a standard subsidy in Beijing. The basic version is priced at 448,000 yuan without subsidies, or 375,400 yuan with subsidies.
In addition, NIO provides a novel battery rental scheme. A car without a battery is 100,000 yuan less than the original price, and users only need to pay 1,280 yuan per month to rent a battery.
The car enjoys a lifelong free warranty, lifelong free charging out of the vehicle’s registered city, lifelong free road assistance and lifelong free networking.
While maintaining brand and product quality, NIO ensure the sales of the ES8 in a cost-effective way. It creates a better user ecosystem with relatively low prices, which is the equivalent of a Xiaomi in the car industry.
It’s harder to offer service than to produce cars.
NIO‘s investor group is so luxurious that it covers almost every service market in the domestic Internet field. For users and future financing, it’s necessary for NIO to develop a more advanced mode to facilitate the company and products.
From this and its charging services, it’s clear that Internet giants in China want to integrate their services into automobile travel. Everyone wants a piece of cake called the new energy cars that have sprung up under domestic policies.
The ES8 is actually the smoke bomb of the next new car
Nexteer is taking a similar route to Tesla, first building brand image with a flagship premium car and making money with a more populist model.
In April 2016, NIO and JAC signed a strategic cooperation agreement worthy of about 10 billion yuan, confirming a plan to produce 50,000 cars in the first phase. Unlike foundry patterns, NIO and JAC jointly built a new aluminum factory. During construction, NIO defined details about manufacturing techniques, quality control and others, to ensure the factory can meet the demands of product manufacturing. According to Cheyun.com, the plant is complete and is producing cars on a small scale. Cheyun.com reports, “About 100 or so cars are manufactured each month. From March or April 2018, the factory will expand its production capacity to about 2,000 cars per month”.
There may be a more comprehensive ES8 market in the middle of next year.
Another model from NIO is also bound for the road: the five-seat electric SUV ES6, which will be more affordable.
2018 and 2019 will be a war between mass produced car delivery and sales. But unlike the competition between start-ups, the competition in the new energy market will be more intense and interesting.