The automaker, which first made headlines with its flagship EP9 electric supercar, unveiled the ES8 in April 2017 as a 7-seat performance SUV targeting the Tesla Model X. Built locally in China, the ES8 costs the equivalent of $69,000 before incentives.
By comparison, an imported Tesla Model X can easily cost double that. It’s therefore little surprise that the company, only formed in 2014, has secured 15,000 orders for the SUV, all with a $770 deposit.
Speaking with Automotive News about why NIO opted to build the ES8, company co-founder and executive vice president Jack Cheng said that it’s because there’s no competition.
“Because nobody’s there, and you’re half the price of an imported Tesla, and you got all the good user experience and the best specifications, fully loaded, selling at $70,000 before incentives. Nobody can hit it and still make money. That’s the key,” he said.
Powering the NIO ES8 are two electric motors delivering a combined 643 hp while receiving juice from a 70 kWh liquid-cooled battery. The SUV can run for up to 310 miles (500 km) on a single charge, accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.4 seconds and top out at 112 mph (180 km/h). On paper, it certainly stands strong against the Model X.
NIO intends on building 1,100 charging stations in China by 2020. Furthermore, the carmaker will offer battery swapping for the ES8 and according to Cheng, there will ultimately be 340 swapping stations across the country.
For now, NIO is focusing on the Chinese market, but Cheng suggested the company could also launch in the U.S., potentially with a crossover.