The electric SUV represents the firm's first production car and will have swappable batteries.
Debuting this week at Auto Shanghai, the NIO ES8 takes the shape of a large, seven-seat SUV featuring an entirely electric powertrain. It’s destined to go on sale in China towards the end of the year and will be in the hands of early adopters early 2018 at a yet undisclosed price tag. Technical specifications are rather scarce at the moment, but we do know the Tesla Model X fighter is a fullsize SUV measuring more than 4.97 metres long with a generous wheelbase stretching to 3 metres.
To keep the weight low, all of the body panels as well as the chassis are made entirely out of aluminum. The engineers have developed an active air suspension to ensure a silky smooth ride for the big SUV set to feature electric motors at both front and rear axles to enable an all-wheel-drive layout. One ace up the ES8’s sleeve will be the swappable battery pack for fast and easy recharging, although details about this feature are not available right now.
NIO is happy to report everything necessary to kick off production of the ES8 is ready, mentioning the supply chain and the manufacturing facility are both prepared for kickoff. To make sure it will live up to the expectations, the family-oriented EV has been tested for “thousands of miles” in Yakeshi in Inner Mongolia where temperatures drop to -30 degrees Celsius. In addition, the car was also put through its paces in Melbourne and Mildura, Australia where it had to withstand temperatures of more than 40 °C.
Like all future road-going models from NIO, the ES8 adopts what will become the corporate X-bar front fascia and “Spark Beat” taillights. It has all the body pillars finished in black to create the illusion of a floating roof and comes with the charging port mounted on the front-left fender. Also noticeable are the flush door handles and the typical SUV plastic body cladding on the lower areas of the bumpers as well as on the side skirts and wheel arches.
Inside, the center console is dominated by a massive portrait-oriented touchscreen serving as the infotainment system while the driver has access to an entirely digital instrument cluster. The cabin adopts a minimalist layout with only very few physical buttons as most of the ES8’s functions will be managed through that big screen. NIO’s designers have decided to go with a continuous vent look as seen on a few other models, such as the latest Euro-spec VW Passat.
In related news, NIO has announced it will begin accepting pre-orders for the EP9 electric supercar and it will produce ten units at $1.48 million USD (about $1.99M CAD) a pop. This will actually be the second batch of production cars as the first six units assembled were for investors.