Revealed: China’s latest EV could be a Tesla Model S killer

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Words: Matthew Hansen
13 Jan 2021

The phrase ‘Tesla killer’ gets wheeled out too often these days — bestowed upon any start-up EV concept, and the odd Porsche. But, this sleek new sedan from Chinese carmaker Nio might actually be deserving of the title.

If that brand name is familiar, that’ll be because of Nio’s existing electric cars — all of which reside in the supercar category. Its Nio EP9 remains one of the fastest cars to ever lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife, having clocked a blistering 7min 05sec lap time back in 2017. In other words, Nio isn’t your average flash-in-the-pan Chinese start-up.

It’s latest creation is called the ET7 — a model Nio has teased for quite some time. Measuring in at 5038mm long with a 3060mm wheelbase, it’s a dash larger than Tesla’s illustrious Model S. And, it’s range is in a similar ball-park, too. Deliveries are set to come in the first quarter of 2022.

Three different battery packs are offered; a 70kWh unit, 100kWh unit, and a hefty 150kWh unit. These are rated for 500km, 700km, and 1000km of travel per charge, respectively. The motor, meanwhile, is claimed to be good for 480kW of power and 850Nm of torque — enough to guarantee a 3.9-second 0–100km/h time, Nio says.

It’s here that I’ll stipulate a selection of differences between this Nio and its Tesla counterpart. For a start, the price of the battery is not included in some of the firm’s released sticker prices for its home market of China. There, it will cost 378,000 yuan (around $80,900) for the entry level model with no battery. With batteries, pricing starts at $95,875.

There are differences with the car’s autonomous driving system, too. While Tesla includes ‘Autopilot’ on all models (level 2 autonomy) and charges a set price for ‘Full Self Driving’ on top, Nio ET7 owners will have to pay a subscription fee of approximately $145 a month to use its self-driving capabilities.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty impressive system on paper. It utilises a lidar sensor featuring a 1550 nanometer laser with 120-degree field of view and a 500m range. There’s 33 ‘sensing units’, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a 5mm wave radar. Nvidia processing chips reportedly capable of seven times the processing power of Tesla’s full self-driving computers also feature.

Nio’s solution for battery charging on the run is different, too. Instead of focusing on a huge charging network, the firm aims to build ‘Power Swap Stations’ where technicians can swap your empty battery for a fresh one in as little as three minutes. Stations are said to be capable of accommodating 13 batteries on site, with the ability to perform over 300 battery swaps per day.

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