China's Nio ES8 Takes On Tesla With 643-HP And 311-Mile Range


This Chinese electric crossover costs half as much as a Tesla Model X.

With the recent reveal of the Tesla Roadster still lingering in our minds and the publicity Rimac has been generating about its game-changing successor to the Concept One electric supercar, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the incredible 1,342-hp Nio EP9 which lapped the Nurburgring faster than any supercar earlier this year. Now, Nio has launched something more appealing to the mass market to take on the Tesla Model X. First unveiled at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show, the Chinese start-up has revealed new details about its ES8 electric SUV.

Set to go on sale exclusively in the Chinese market, the Nio ES8’s striking styling is somewhat polarizing. The electric seven-seat SUV rides on an aluminum body and chassis and features the "highest amount of aluminum for any mass production car" according to the Chinese startup. Two electric motors produce a combined output of 643 hp and 619 lb-ft of torque, enabling the all-wheel drive crossover to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds. Powering the ES8 is a 70 kWh battery pack enabling an NEDC range of 220 miles, though a 311-mile range model is also available. Once the battery has depleted, it can be swapped out for a fully recharged battery in around three minutes.

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Nio is planning to build over 1,100 Power Swap Stations in the future, which will be joined by over 1,200 Power Mobile vehicles that can give the ES8 enough juice to travel up to 62 miles after a ten-minute charge. There’s room for seven inside the high-tech cabin which features high-quality Nappa leather upholstery, a digital instrument cluster, and a large infotainment system with a portrait orientation. Owners can relax in a front "lounge seat" and there’s also an air quality system that includes an activated carbon and HEPA filter as well as a negative ion generator. On the tech front, the ES8 includes Nio’s advanced Pilot driver assistance.

This system uses 23 sensors including a trifocal front-facing camera, four exterior cameras, five mm-wave radars, a driver monitor camera, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Thanks to its abundance of cameras and sensors, the crossover features automatic emergency braking, traffic jam assist, and highway pilot, as well as blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition, and a lane departure warning system. As well as high-tech safety features, the ES8 also comes equipped with NOMI, which Nio describes as a "fun, expressive, and intuitive companion that can listen, talk, and help drivers along the way" and "the world's first in-car AI system."

In China, pricing for the Nio ES8 starts at 448,000 Yuan ($67,715) which significantly undercuts the Tesla Model X which costs around twice as much. 10,000 Founder's Editions will also be sold for 548,000 Yuan ($82,824), while a monthly 1,280 Yuan ($193) battery rental plan will knock 100,000 Yuan ($15,114) off the ES8’s purchase price. No word yet on whether the Nio ES8 will be launched in the US or Europe, but company bosses have previously expressed a desire to expand beyond their home market.