► Electric supercar launched under new NIO brand
► 1341bhp, 194mph top speed, 0-124mph in 7.1sec
► Fastest electric car around the Nurburgring
Nascent electric car brand NIO has announced its new electric supercar, badged the NIO EP9, has broken the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for road-legal cars.
The 6m45.9s lap was set on Friday 12 May 2017, beating the car’s previous best time of 7m05.12s recorded in October 2016 and going even faster than Radical’s long-standing SR8 LM record. The NIO EP9 set the record on bespoke tyres designed specifically for the record attempt to deal with the car's significant downforce levels - it's claimed to be capable of cornering at 3g.
For comparison, Mercedes-AMG’s all-electric SLS recorded a 7min 56.23sec lap in 2013.
The EP9 has also previously completed a high-speed lap of the Circuit of the Americas in Texas in autonomous mode, without the input of a driver. There was definitely a driver at the wheel at the Nordschleife, however...
You can watch the on-board video of the NIO EP9’s record lap below:
What is the NIO EP9?
The NIO badge is a newly launched sub-brand from parent company NextEV. Chairman William Li describes the EP9 as ‘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.’
The EP9 generates no less than one megawatt of power (the same output as Koenigsegg’s One:1‘megacar’).
That’s equivalent to 1341bhp, enough to propel the EP9 from 0-62mph in 2.7sec, 0-124mph in 7.1sec and on to a top speed of 194mph (quoted as ‘gear-limited’ – there’s only so fast you can spin an electric motor). Perhaps most impressive of all, 0-186mph is claimed to take just 15.9 seconds.
Six EP9s are currently being built, at a manufacturing cost of approximately $1.2 million (£970,000) and sold for $1.48 million (approx. £1,145,000). NIO has since confirmed a second batch of ten cars will be built, with each made to order.
NIO EP9: what makes it tick?
Four inboard motors, one to power each wheel, with an individual gearbox each. The monocoque chassis is carbonfibre, with space for two occupants, and claimed to be built to the same safety standards as FIA LMP1 Le Mans prototypes.
The low-lying bodywork (also carbon) is shaped to create a claimed 24,000 Newtons (2.4 tonnes) of downforce at 149mph. An active rear wing has three positions – Park (laid flat), Low Drag and High Downforce. The front splitter is adjustable, and helps marshal air into a full-length underfloor diffuser.
It’s claimed that the NIO EP9 can corner at 2.5g, and attain an eye-popping (literally, probably) 3.3g under braking. That’s not on road-legal tyres, however – the EP9 is designed to run on bespoke slick tyres (or race-style wets in the rain).
As well as active aero, the EP9 also features active suspension, with variable ride height and four-way adjustable dampers. Six-pot calipers and giant 408mm discs get it stopped pretty conclusively – they’re claimed to be capable of twice the braking force of a GT3 car. No wonder it runs on slicks.
Two interchangeable lithium batteries (as shown in the image above) provide the juice, and it’s claimed they can be charged in as little as 45 minutes for a quoted range of 265 miles.
Total weight is 1735kg – impressive when you consider that the batteries weigh 635kg combined.
Who is NextEV?
A young start-up brand, with its nerve centre in China but with R&D and design centres in multiple countries, including the USA, Germany and the UK. It currently has around 2000 employees. One of the company’s co-founders was the late Dr. Martin Leach, former president of Ford of Europe and CEO of Maserati.
NextEV, in collaboration with Chinese automotive company JAC, plans to launch a range of electric vehicles with various internet-connected functions.
It will launch a seven-seater electric SUV in China in the latter part of 2017, and plans to sell autonomous electric vehicles in the U.S. market in 2020. NextEV's USA arm was issued an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit by Californian authorities in October 2016, and plans to begin testing driverless cars on public roads in the near future.
The company has so far been building its brand name by fielding an official NextEV team in the FIA Formula E championship, with Nelson Piquet Jr and Britain’s Oliver Turvey at the wheel. The new electric supercar will no doubt net a few further headlines.
Read about the time CAR went electric karting with Nelson Piquet Jr and the NextEV team here
What’s this supercar all about then?
Primarily to create interest in the brand and showcase its engineering clout. This may be a low-volume, high-price hypercar, but future models are expected to be more accessible. NextEV isn’t planning to position NIO as a supercar brand in the long-term. It will be a brand centred purely around electric cars, however, with a strong emphasis on connected technologies and 'user experience.'
‘We believe that when the car ownership experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will become the natural choice for everyone’, says NextEV chairman William Li.
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