► Electric supercar launched under new NIO brand
► 1341bhp, 194mph top speed, 0-124mph in 7.1sec
► Fastest electric car around the Nurburgring
Nascent electric car brand NIO has revealed its new supercar EV, badged the NIO EP9. Claimed to be the world’s fastest electric car, the EP9 generates no less than one megawatt of power (the same output as Koenigsegg’s One:1 ‘megacar’).
That’s equivalent to 1341bhp, enough to propel the EP9 from 0-62mph in 2.7sec, 0-124mph in 7.1sec and on to a top speed of 194mph (quoted as ‘gear-limited’ – there’s only so fast you can spin an electric motor). Perhaps most impressive of all, 0-186mph is claimed to take just 15.9 seconds.
Six cars are currently planned to be built, at a manufacturing cost of approximately $1.2 million (£970,000). Customer pricing is yet to be confirmed, and dependent on demand. Ditto any plans to build any further EXP9s after the initial six-car production run is completed.
The NIO badge is a newly launched sub-brand from parent company NextEV. Chairman William Li describes the EP9 as ‘the first stage of automotive production for NIO. It is a statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles.’
NIO EP9: what makes it tick?
Four inboard motors, one to power each wheel, with an individual gearbox each. The monocoque chassis is carbonfibre, with space for two occupants, and claimed to be built to the same safety standards as FIA LMP1 Le Mans prototypes.
The low-lying bodywork (also carbon) is shaped to create a claimed 24,000 Newtons (2.4 tonnes) of downforce at 149mph. An active rear wing has three positions – Park (laid flat), Low Drag and High Downforce. The front splitter is adjustable, and helps marshal air into a full-length underfloor diffuser.
It’s claimed that the NIO EP9 can corner at 2.5g, and attain an eye-popping (literally, probably) 3.3g under braking. That’s not on road-legal tyres, however – the EP9 is designed to run on bespoke slick tyres (or race-style wets in the rain).
As well as active aero, the EP9 also features active suspension, with variable ride height and four-way adjustable dampers. Six-pot calipers and giant 408mm discs get it stopped pretty conclusively – they’re claimed to be capable of twice the braking force of a GT3 car. No wonder it runs on slicks.
Two interchangeable lithium batteries (as shown in the image above) provide the juice, and it’s claimed they can be charged in as little as 45 minutes for a quoted range of 265 miles.
Total weight is 1735kg – impressive when you consider that the batteries weigh 635kg combined.
What’s this about a Nurburgring record?
NextEV states the NIO EP9 has also recorded the fastest time yet by an electric vehicle around the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, at 7min 5.12sec set in October 2016.
That’s seriously quick – more than 16sec faster than a Ferrari 488 GTB. For comparison, Mercedes-AMG’s electric SLSrecorded 7min 56.23sec in 2013.
The EP9 is claimed to have also broken the EV lap record at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
Who is NextEV?
A young start-up brand, with its nerve centre in China but with R&D and design centres in multiple countries, including the USA, Germany and the UK. It currently has around 2000 employees. One of the company’s co-founders was the late Dr. Martin Leach, former president of Ford of Europe and CEO of Maserati.
NextEV, in collaboration with Chinese automotive company JAC, plans to launch a range of electric vehicles with various internet-connected functions. These are hoped to form a key part of the cars’ appeal.
The company has so far been building its brand name by fielding an official NextEV team in the FIA Formula E championship, with Nelson Piquet Jr and Britain’s Oliver Turvey at the wheel. The new electric supercar will no doubt net a few further headlines.
What’s this supercar all about then?
Primarily to create interest in the brand and showcase its engineering clout. This may be a low-volume, high-price hypercar, but future models are expected to be more accessible. NextEV isn’t planning to position NIO as a supercar brand in the long-term. It will be a brand centred purely around electric cars, however, with a strong emphasis on connected technologies and ‘user experience.’
NextEV’s USA arm was issued an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit by Californian authorities in October 2016, and plans to begin testing driverless cars on public roads in the near future.
‘We believe that when the car ownership experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will become the natural choice for everyone’, says NextEV chairman William Li.