NIO, formerly known as NextEV, has not only started sales of its first electric car, but it’s making it much cheaper than Tesla’s Model X. The NIO ES8 sports utility vehicle starts at 448,000 yuan ($67,783) against the 836,000 yuan for the Model X.
The Shanghai-based startup wants to compete with Tesla in more ways that just the price tag of its flagship model. They are offering some features from Tesla’s specs, like in-car AI (called NOMI) for an improved driving experience and charging portals that will recharge the vehicle in just three minutes. Also, the Chinese company is offering NIO Pilot, its comprehensive advanced driver assistance system. NIO PILOT is enabled by 23 sensors, including a trifocal front-facing camera, four exterior cameras, five millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a driver monitor camera.
NIO was founded three years ago and currently employs more than 4,000 people across three continents. Backed by Chinese tech behemoth, Tencent, and U.S. venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, the Chinese enterprise has some deep-pocketed investors to fulfill its plan to have as much as 1,100 charging stations by 2020 in China alone.
China is a competitive market for electric cars. Musk’s company reported revenues of more than $1.5 billion in the first 9 months of last year, compared with the $570 million they earned in the same period of 2016.
NIO will have both mobile and stationary charging ports, and say that a user could swap the battery in only three minutes. Meanwhile, “Power Mobile is a brand-new power service product developed by NIO, which enables an ES8 to run 100 kilometers after charging for ten minutes.”
“We hope that we can have more people interested in smart electric vehicles by presenting ultimate products and services, and then we can achieve our vision of bringing back blue skies,” NIO Founder and Chairman, William Li declared at the presentation of NIO ES8.