A CHINESE start-up is claiming a new Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record with its 1,341bhp electric supercar, the Nio EP9.
Unveiled today in London, the EP9 boasts four electric motors and is said to produce 1 megawatt of power, or 1,341bhp. Its performance sets a new benchmark for electric vehicles (EVs): a 0-124mph time of 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 194mph.
The two-seater’s tub is made of carbon fibre and the batteries run between the front and rear wheels, but, in an unusual arrangement, they are in two pods at either side of the cockpit, with the driver and passenger sitting low to the ground between them.
An aerodynamic undertray and rear splitter create nearly 2½ tons of downforce at 150mph. An active rear wing is automatically raised or lowered to improve grip in corners and reduce drag in flat-out straights.
The EP9’s phenomenal performance was harnessed in setting the EV lap record at the Nürburgring on October 12. The 12.9-mile track, which has become the standard test of a vehicle’s performance, was lapped in 7 minutes and 5.120 seconds.
If confirmed, that not only eclipses the previous EV record of 7min 22.329sec, set by the non-road-legal Toyota TMG EV P002, but also puts most fossil-powered supercars to shame. A Pagani Zonda R holds the overall lap record of 6min 47.500sec, but cars that can be counted as slower than the Nio EP9 include the Nissan GT-R Nismo (7min 8.679sec), Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package (7min 14.640sec) and Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7min 15.630sec).
NextEV says the Nio EP9 has a range of 265 miles between charges, but the EP9 has an “interchangeable battery system”. The company told us batteries can be changed in eight minutes.
NextEV, which was formed just two years ago but claims to have 2,000 employees in 12 locations around the world, says it plans to build an initial run of six cars, all of which have been allocated to Chinese customers. It says retail prices can be confirmed only if demand is high and production is expanded, but each car costs £1.2m to build at present.
The launch of the EP9 was also the unveiling of the Nio brand, which Next EV says will “help users rediscover the ‘joyful lifestyle’ of car ownership by creating inspiring vehicles that deliver superior performance, a new benchmark for aesthetic design and unique user experiences”. And who wouldn’t want that?
In China the brand will be known as Blue Sky Coming, which alludes to the company’s stated aim of reducing the environmental impact of vehicles.
As with Tesla, NextEV has chosen to launch to with a high-performance car (Tesla’s first was the Roadster supercar); more mainstream cars are planned. Again like Tesla, NextEV is working heavily on autonomous driving technology, and has been permitted by the state of California to conduct driverless tests on public roads.
NextEV’s founder and chairman, William Li, said: “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. We believe that when the car ownership experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will become the natural choice for everyone, leading to a more sustainable tomorrow. And with that, our vision of a blue sky will come true.”