NIO, the Shanghai-based electric vehicle start-up backed by Tencent, Baidu and others, unveiled the a new vehicle for the China market and said it would begin taking pre-orders of their flagship super-car NIO EP9.
NIO, the best-funded Chinese EV start-up with a RMB20 billion (US$2.8 billion) valuation, said that the official launch of the vehicle ES8 will take place at the end of this year, with deliveries expected to begin next year.
The NIO ES8 is a full size 7-seater electric SUV with a 2-3-2 seating arrangement. The length of the vehicle is over 196 inches long and the wheelbase is over 118 inches long. The ES8 has an all-aluminum body and chassis, front and rear motors with electric all-wheel drive, and active air suspension.
The NIO ES8 has been tested for thousands of miles. The vehicle has been tested in Yakeshi in Inner Mongolia, where temperatures can reach -22 degrees Fahrenheit as well as Melbourne and Mildura, Australia, where temperatures can reach over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It is another statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles," said NIO founder and chairman, William Li, in a statement.
NIO also announced it would begin pre-selling its flagship supercar NIO EP9, which has a price tag of US$1.48 million and is claimed as the fastest electric car in the world.
The first batch of six EP9s produced were for the company's earliest backers, including Tencent founder Pony Ma, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, JD.com founder Liu Qiangdong, Autohome founder Li Xiang and Hillhouse Capital's boss Zhang Lei. NIO plans to produce a second batch of ten EP9s, with each one made to order.
NIO made the announcements during the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, and is showcasing 11 cars including two NIO Formula E race cars, seven NIO EP9s, and its vision car EVE and one NIO ES8.
NIO was established in 2014 by Li Bin, former chairman of Chinese automobile marketing platform Bitauto.com. China Money Network named NIO as the first among five Chinese EV start-ups that could rival industry leader Tesla Motors.