Nio begins delivering its Tesla Model S fighter

  • The first Nio ET7 electric luxury sedans are being delivered to customers in China, ahead of the expected start of sales in Europe later this year.
  • The sedan debuts with a 100 kWh battery powering a twin-motor setup with 644 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque.
  • Nio’s bet on battery swap station technology in China runs counter to current industry trends, which favor ever-faster wired chargers.

    Nio began deliveries of its long-awaited ET7 sedan in China this week, as it seeks to replicate Tesla’s success in the country.

    Mass production of the full-size electric sedan began a few days ago, after the automaker recently offered test drives to potential customers. The automaker has started delivering the first sedans to customers at its headquarters in Hefei, Anhui province.

    The model is expected to be one of the biggest launches yet for Nio, promising a range of 419 miles in addition to possibly rolling out higher levels of autonomous operation. More importantly, it will be one of the first luxury electric vehicles from a Chinese automaker to be offered in Europe, with plans to offer the model in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Sweden in 2022.

    As the first electric vehicle based on Nio’s second-generation NT2.0 platform, which will be shared with the ES7 SUV and a smaller ET5 sedan, the ET7 has a relatively large 100 kWh battery. Nio previously promised an even larger 150kWh pack targeting 621 miles of range. The 100 kWh version currently delivered to customers is offered at a base price equivalent to $70,500.

    Nio plans to offer self-driving capabilities on a subscription basis from the end of the year, taking inspiration from Tesla. With prominent front and rear Lidar sensor modules and a total of 33 sensors of various types all around the car, the ET7 should offer a Level 2 system at a minimum, in regions where it will be permitted by local regulations.

    The ET7 debuted with a 100kWh battery, but the company has promised an even bigger one.

    Nio

    “As Nio’s first model on the second-generation technology platform, NT2.0, the ET7 comes standard with over 100 configurations for comfort, safety and smart technologies, and is equipped with everything new software system for the NT2.0, Banyan, which continues to evolve and grow with our users,” added the automaker. “At the same time, the Nio Autonomous Driving (NAD) subscription service is expected to be available by region from the fourth quarter of this year.”

    While promises of self-driving capability remain murky, the ET7 will deliver plenty of power: a twin-motor setup with 644 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, good enough for 3.9-second 0-60 sprints mph.

    In many ways, the ET7 will be China’s answer to the current generation of tech-laden electric sedans, including the Mercedes EQS and the aging Tesla Model S, while emphasizing luxury over sport, unlike the Porsche Taycan.

    Where Nio differs significantly from other EV manufacturers is its adoption of battery swap stations. The automaker has opened more than 800 such stations in its home country so far, with plans to have more than 1,300 by the end of the year. That’s a lot of stations for an automaker that produced its 100,000th car just a year ago.

    For the moment, it is mainly foreign automakers with a presence in China that have to worry about competition from Nio, rather than European automakers. But that may soon change as the company has shown a lot of potential in its short existence.

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