So far, Nio only spoke Chinese. For the market launch in Norway, we are checking out the European version of the electric full-size SUV with seven seats and a removable battery.
How you think and steer like this, you sometimes wonder where exactly the tens of years of automotive advantage have gone. Darned electromobility, darned suppliers, darned change-friendly engineers. A mix with which you, as a newcomer, can rush pretty quickly in the slipstream of the established. Let's just take Nio, launched in 2014 and now an innovation incubator. A brand that is opening the first Nio House in Europe (after 27 of them in China) just below my hotel room in Oslo. Chic, with large glass surfaces, light wood and cars in the showroom that make even hardened drivers look big. Whether super sports car, futuristic space concept or full-size SUV - everything is cool, everything is electric, everything is pretty wow!
Operating hurdles? Very low
Have a look at your friendly Ford dealer, or maybe also at the Volkswagen partner. Everything Potemkin brand Evergrande? Ephemeral like Byton, Borgward, Qoros. Let's not think about it any further, we'd rather drive out of Oslo, out into the country, in the five-meter-long, 540-hp seven-seater. Get in, lever to D and off you go. The ES8 lowers the operating hurdles, appears like a mixture of Tesla and an intuitively operable concept without its own aroma. Speaking of aroma: while the pre-series ES8 that was driven two years ago still had a strong note of glue wafting through the interior, the air is now clean, skilfully conditioned by the low-draught air conditioning system and scenting.,
Conditioning, good keyword: there's still Nomi, the globular voice control thing on the dashboard that looks at you all the time with its digital eyes, sometimes even turns to you with the whirring of the engine. In our case, she didn't want to do it right away, but otherwise takes care of requests up to and including activating the massage seat on demand. In general, things are going well on board the ES8, which combines high-quality appeal including nappa leather covers, microfibre roof liner and piano lacquer surfaces with airy architecture. Instead of imposing themselves on the occupants in a pseudo-dynamic manner, door panels and dashboards elegantly keep their distance. Nio considers gimmicks such as illuminated ventilation nozzles or similar effects to be dispensable. Fine. Only the center console with a large storage compartment, safe and open charging cradle is a bit bulkier, but without being in the way.,
Recliner instead of glove compartment
It also replaces the glove compartment, which makes room for an extendable footrest that can be used in conjunction with the Business- Class atmosphere created. Those less traveled might think of Grandma Lise's electric recliner. It doesn't matter, the seats are comfortable in any case, including the driver's conventional one.At the back it gets a little less opulent, even with the hard plastic of the panels and the operating lever of the seats in the second row, past which it goes all the way back - as usual not very seductive but still possible. In addition to the seven-seater, Nio also offers a six-seater version. There is always a decent trunk.,
And handling? Now the driver commands the all-aluminum SUV with a rather distanced feedback steering, while he glides quite smoothly over the asphalt with the air suspension (from Continental). Only small granularities of the surfaces come through. In general, the stiff, carefully acoustically insulated ES8 dominates comfort. Even in sport mode (control electronics: Bosch) it doesn't give up, although the steering and response behavior move closer to the driver, the accelerator pedal now makes one pedal, so it recuperates significantly when it's released instead of letting the load roll. The brake pedal feel still leaves room for improvement in transparency. The two synchronous machines on the front and rear axles provide plenty of power and torque. The ES8 pushes massively, in the sports program the electronics have to intervene hard when accelerating out, if the device is not to officially drive across.
Battery replacement? Good idea. Let's see if that works
Whether it actually sprints to 100 in 4.9 seconds with its 540 hp and 725 Newton meters couldn't be found out legally in Norway, nor the range (580 kilometers with the 100 kWh battery according to NEDC) , consumption and loading times are the subject of tests in Germany. Above all, however, the battery replacement within three minutes instead of conventional charging, which Nio would like to offer as the first manufacturer. But the fact is already now that the ES8 is a big, comfortable guy. Largely intuitive to use as well as comfortable and effortless. Which puts it ahead of many competitors, even some established ones. With the exception of the prices, which remain on the ground. The almost fully equipped ES8 with a 100 kW battery (from March 2022) costs 679,000 Norwegian kroner, with a 75 kW battery (from July 2022) 679,000. If you decide to rent a battery, you pay 519,000 plus 1,399/1,999 per month. The exchange rate? About one in ten.,
The ES8 is an electric full-size SUV with comfort and plenty of punch at attractive prices from around 60,000 euros - that much is already certain. Everything else on the topic of Nio in general, including battery replacement and free charging, as well as the ES8 in particular, you have to take your time to look at. Anyway, it's exciting. It is quite possible that Nio will be the first Chinese brand to have a sustainable European market launch with competitive models, clever ideas and a lively community.