Yet another Chinese backed electric car startup has begun life by building a so-called supercar. Faraday Future did it last year at the CES show in Las Vegas. Its car, the FFZero1, was a non-functioning show car with no plans for production. NextEV has just done it with an actual working car that is scheduled for limited production and which just set the fastest lap ever recorded by an electric car at the Nurburgring. The car was officially unveiled to the press in London on November 21 at a splashy media event at the Saatchi Gallery.
The new car, designated the NIO EP9, costs $1.2 million to manufacture. The company expects to produce a total of 6 cars and sell them to people who could care less about the federal tax credit. NextEV is headquartered in Shanghai but has several offices around the world, including one in Silicon Valley. It was founded in 2014 by William Li, a Chinese entrepreneur who started the online automotive marketing and advertising firm Bitauto.
Li says the company first plans to sell its electric and autonomous cars to consumers in China starting in 2017. Global sales are expected to follow. The company’s CEO in the US is Padmasree Warrior, former CTO at Cisco Systems.
Li told his audience in London, “The NIO EP9 was born to push limits and is 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.”
What possible relevance does a super expensive electric car have to the lives of ordinary people? The answer is, “It depends.” On the surface, the answer appears to be, “None.” But the engineering and technology that went into making the EB9 will prove invaluable when it comes to making vehicles for regular drivers. Battery management and motor control systems are critical to both kinds of vehicles. NextEV currently competes it the Formula E racing series.
The NIO brand is supposed to represent a new day the company says. Translated into Chinese, NIO means Blue Sky Coming, as in an atmosphere that is not polluted with carbon emission from burning fossil fuels. Elon Musk would approve. Be sure to check out the EV9 on its record setting lap of the Nurburgring in the video below.