If a car goes 19 seconds slower on one lap around a race track then it did on another, is that news? It is if the faster circuit was done with a human driver at the wheel and the slower was done in autonomous mode with the driver watching from the pit lane.
That’s exactly hat happened on Februrary 23 when the Nio EP9 supercar from NextEV lapped the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas. The Nio NP9 features four electric motors that combine for 1,360 horsepower. It goes 0-100 kph in 2.7 seconds and has a top speed of 194 mph. It completed a lap of COTA in 2 minutes 40.33 seconds at an average speed of 160 mph. With a human driver at the wheel, the car did it in 2 minutes 21 seconds. By comparison, the fastest lap by a Formula One car at COTA is just under 1:40.
Only 6 Nio EP9 cars are scheduled for production. The car was developed to showcase the technology incorporated into the NextEV Formula E racing program. The Nio EP9 also holds the record for the fastest electric car ever to complete a lap at the famed Nordschliefe circuit at the Nurburgring in Germany. Driven by a human driver, it went around in 7 minutes 5.12 seconds — just 8 seconds slower than the mighty Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid.
NextEV says the 1735 kiologram EP9 generates more than 2.5g during cornerning and 3.3g under braking. It claims the car produces twice the amount of downforce of a Formula One car at 150 mph and has been built to FIA LMP1 safety specifications even though it will not be used for racing. It has two batteries that can be charged in 45 minutes and a total range of 265 miles (when not being driven in anger around a race track.
NextEV founder and chairman William Li says, “The automotive industry is on the cusp of profound change. In the next decade, the car will be the smartest device that people will own and we want to bring the mobile internet experience to the vehicle. Nio is a brand that will exhilarate and delight. It will revolutionize the experience of car ownership for its users, redefining what it means to offer a premium service and product.”
NextEV plans to begin selling electric cars in China in 2017 and in other world markets after that, but where, when, and what it will sell are still unclear at this time.