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Driving report Nio ES8: First check of the electric SUV with exchangeable batteries

Driving report Nio ES8 (2018)
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  • Equipment & Processing
  • digital assistant
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  • Chassis & Steering
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This is always the case with Chinese e-car startups one thing. Spectacular visions are shown, studies built, records promised, world markets conquered, golden times announced. And it often stays that way. Cloud Cuckoo Land. So far none of the electric wonders has made it into series production. At Nio it's different until now. The company around founder William Li has focused on China from the start, teamed up with established suppliers from Europe and placed great emphasis on having a real car on the road as quickly as possible. That worked, the Nio ES8 has been delivered to customers since June 2018.

Nio wants to be a mobile home

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Not only does it look spacious, it is!

At the same time, Nio has set up 13 large branches, the so-called “Nio Houses”, which not only serve as a sales room, but also provide the entire Nio community with a cuddly and soft Nio feel-good world, including painting courses, childcare and blue capuccino. You can like it or not. At least it's consistent. Because, as Nio founder William Li preaches: Today, customers don't just want to buy sheet metal and technology, they want to feel good. Nio wants to be a home. And inIn the case of the ES8, this home offers space for up to seven people.

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Would you like business class? No problem, the lounge package gives the front passenger a reclining seat and the rear passengers two large individual seats.

They can be consistently luxuriously furnished ES8 look forward to a lot of space right from the start. The driver and front passenger sit lightly in front of a slim dashboard, both are separated by a massive center console with a “hatch” in the lower area. The workmanship looks high-quality, the materials used feel very good. It feels like the ES8 that we got our hands on at the Hefei plant can easily keep up with a Tesla Model X. If there are deductions, then for the much more conservative design.

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Nio's digital assistant is called Nomi and lives on the dashboard.

What not means that the Nio makers have saved on digital toys. The most conspicuous indication that the Nio investors made their fortune in the entertainment electronics sector, among other things, is Nomi. A motorized digital smiley that sits prominently on the dashboard and interacts with the passengers. Alexa with eyes, if you will. When Nomispeaks, she turns to her interlocutor. If she is ignored for too long, she makes faces to draw attention to herself. It all looks a bit playful, but then suddenly feels strangely familiar while driving. Because you realize pretty quickly that Nomi can do a lot more than just fax. Close the sunroof when it rains, for example. Or let the parcel carrier into the car if he wants to deposit a parcel in the trunk. And of course, Nomi also reminds you of inspection appointments and, like the digital assistants at home, can search for information, find parking spaces or tell jokes. It gives a faceless (and in the future autonomously acting machine) a face. And, sorry auto purists, it just feels good.

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A bit special: The ES8 can drive ('D), park (' P ') and drive backwards (' R '). Neutral ('N') is missing. Why? No one responsible for Nio knew an answer to that.

In the second row of seats there is either one bench or, as part of the lounge package, two comfortable individual seats, on which even two-meter people can be stowed extremely comfortably. Important for the mostly fully digitized passengers: each seat has its own USB port, and two more charging stations are located on the back of the armrest between the driver and front passenger. On the topic of the passenger: If the lounge option is installed, the seat can be converted into a reclining chair, including electric legrests and footrests.

The biggest surprise awaits in the third row of seats. There we Europeans know a maximum of emergency seats without any comfort. Here, the ES8 scores with two seats that are almost suitable for long journeys and that even two adults can easily set up on. Only a few centimeters are missing for large feet. In all honesty: no Audi Q7 can keep up with that. Advantage of electric mobility: Q7 and Co. have to 'waste' a relatively large amount of space in the underbody for the drive train and exhaust system.

Big Sprinter: Despite the all-aluminum chassis, it weighs the ES8 with a length of five meters 2.5 tons and still runs in 4.4 seconds to 100 km /h. The end is at 200 km /h.

Among other things, this is due to the fine air suspension that Nio purchases from Continental and a remarkably good job in terms of ride comfort power. The ES8 smoothly irones away long waves, while the chassis levels a large part of the rolling movements in the curve. This is also known from the much more expensive XL models. Nice detail: Conti delivers the Nio parts from Gifhorn to the Nio plant in Hefei via the new Silk Road. Travel time: three weeks. The freight would be on the way for three months by ship. Incidentally, not all Conti air suspension kits have such a long way to go, some 'just' have to go to Stuttgart and are installed there in the Mercedes EQC.

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The battery control and the ancillary units are located under the hood of the ES8.

We were able to drive the ES8 on the Nio test site in Hefei, including the Marter train. Apart from the fine chassis, the ES8 also did very well there. No rattling, hardly a creak from the interior. That speaks for a very high production standard. Typical electric car: The ES8 can start right away, like the fire department. Chassis setup to “Sport” (“Comfort”, “Eco” and “Individual” are optional), depress the accelerator and keep breakfast in your stomach. Pulled forward by two 240 kW electric motors, the big Chinese shoots to 100 km /h in 4.4 seconds. 600 HP total output and a maximum torque of 840 Nm are far, far away from what a passenger in the back seats might experience, especially if this is immediately followed by emergency braking to a standstill. These rubber band sprints are completely useless in everyday life and that's probably why they are so much fun. On our test rounds, eight repetitions were not a problem, neither the liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries nor the Brembo brakes were noticeable.

Battery change and quick charger: everything works!

It stays that way Topic range fear in the electric car. You can write books about it or throw statistics around you that prove that the electrical ranges available today would be completely sufficient. Or you can simply install exchangeable batteries and place exchange stations along the major long-distance travel routes. Nio has just started with this and is the only electric car manufacturer besides Tesla to offer its customers an exclusive charging infrastructure. Others have to judge whether this makes sense with a view to quick profits. It is definitely a unique selling point that helps to degrade the topic of reach to a side note. Oh yes: Of course, the ES8 also offers two other charging options in parallel to the battery change: alternating current (ChadEmo) on the passenger side, direct current (type 2) on the driver's side. Should the ES8 or its smaller sister model ES6 make it to Europe, the Chinese will probably focus on the CCS plug.

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Editor Jochen Knecht is impressed with what Nio has done in four years and would like Nomi to join him Take it home.


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