Electric vehicles have been stuck in the middle with consumers for several years now. The ones everyone wants — mostly from Tesla — price out about 95% of the auto market. Meanwhile, the ones most consumers can afford fail to deliver on the expectations of shoppers in the same price point. This situation will change once the new generation of EVs arrives, but until then we’ll keep seeing impossible dream cars from emerging electric automakers. NIO EP9, claimed to be the world’s fastest EV, continues that tradition.
NextEV, a “global start-up” with a Formula E race team, introduced the world to the NIO brand and the EP9 supercar at a London event the week before Thanksgiving. The company described EP9 as the world’s fastest electric car based on its times at Nürburgring Nordschliefe and Circuit Paul Ricard. Its power specs make it easy to see how it could earn the title.
According to a NextEV statement, EP9 delivers 1,341 horsepower from four electric motors and reaches 124 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds. Its top speed is 194 miles per hour. The car covers a range of 265 miles on a full charge with a charging time of 45 minutes, the automaker said. (Among other curiosities in the release, the EP9’s “interchangeable batterysystem” caught our eye.)
Though these numbers are impressive on every count, the general public will never drive an EP9. Auto Express (UK) reports just six models will go into production at a cost of $1.2 million each. The company’s primary investors have dibs on them and will feature them at track days to build buzz for the brand.
EVs that exceed expectations
No one can argue about the potential of such a powerful electric vehicle, even as a show car. NextEV founder William Li described EP9 as a “best-in-class product … that is a statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities.” Li said NIO would exceed expectations as a way of making the case for EVs in the general market. There was no hint of when the public would see a car built for daily driving from the new brand.
To date, the only electric car that exceeded expectations was a Tesla, so we’ll make the comparison. The Palo Alto-based automaker originally released the Roadster as its halo car and revenue driver for Model S development. Once car folks saw Roadster beating out established sports cars in short-range sprints, the buzz began. NextEV could do the same with NIO if its first production model delivers on some of these grand promises.
NIO and the high-end EV market
If NIO followed the Tesla model closely on any level, the brand’s next car would be a performance EV priced around $100,000. However, the bar is much higher at the end of 2016 than it was a few years ago. Since Tesla released the world’s fastest poduction car — a ludicrous Model S P100 — we expect everything from EVs. Consumer Reports also put Model S back in the recommended category in 2016 after it improved upon earlier models.
In other words, the best EVs are getting faster, more reliable, and more popular while battery prices drop. There is definintely room for a competitor to bring something to the segment, but it’s probably the sooner the better. By 2020, the market should be flush with quality electric vehicles in every point — especially in the high end. NIO won’t just compete with Tesla by then. It will have to top Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and maybe even Aston Martin, too. Those are some great expectations to exceed.