Chinese startup NIO marked its entry last week into the world’s biggest market for electric cars with a sport utility vehicle priced cheaper than Tesla Inc.’s Model X.
Set up about three years ago, NIO is among the youngest companies to join the global EV melee as regulators worldwide crack down on emissions and countries, including China, consider phasing out automobiles powered by gasoline and diesel. In China, NIO will also be competing against giants including Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co., besides local rivals such as BYD Co.
When it comes to taking on the the might of Elon Musk’s Model X, the NIO’s new ES8 is no shrinking violet, accelerating from 0-100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in a sprightly 4.4 seconds, compared to the Tesla’s more sedate 6.3 seconds.
It beats the Model X when it comes to charging speed too, filling the battery with juice in just 1.1 hours, compared to Tesla’s 4.5 on a speed charge.
So, here’s how the seven-seater ES8 stacks up against the Model X:
NIO is promising features and services to reassure buyers that they won’t be left stranded in the middle of nowhere after running out of battery charge. Owners of the ES8 can charge their car by swapping batteries at power-swap stations in three minutes or recharge with the help of “Power Mobile” service vehicles that travel to motorists.
The startup plans to build more than 1,100 power-swap stations in China by 2020 and have more than 1,200 “Power Mobile” service vehicles. A battery-swap station can be assembled within a day, according to Li. The car maker will also offer other free services including on-road assistance.
Chinese customers can buy the ES8 for 448,000 yuan ($67,783).That compares with 836,000 yuan for Tesla’s Model X, and 596,300 yuan for BMW’s gasoline-powered X5.
NIO, formerly known as NextEV, is among several startups to have sprouted in China after the introduction of incentives for new-energy car makers to help cut reliance on imported oil. As governments around the world consider phasing out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles to curb pollution, automakers are rushing to develop zero-emission technologies, with batteries emerging as the dominant viable alternative to internal-combustion engines.
Founded by William Li and a group of internet entrepreneurs in 2014, NIO has raised more than $1 billion from investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd.is also backed by investors including