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Battle of battery cars: China NIO's SUV versus Tesla's Model X

20 December 2017

CNBC cited the advantage Nio gains from government subsidies when it reported the ES8's starting price of US$67,765 - which compares to the Model X's US$126,470 price inside China.

Shanghai-based startup NIO is the latest Chinese company to try to get in on the action.

Formerly known as NextEV, the Tencent-backed NIO is one of many Chinese EV startups incentivized by the Chinese government to create more momentum in the local EV market, which is already the largest in the world, having overtaken the United States a year ago.

After raising over $1 billion from investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd, NIO is gearing up for the next phase of growth in the world's biggest electric-car market.

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The ES8 is made to order, customisable and equipped with an artificial intelligence system. More than 500,000 electric vehicles were sold in China past year, accounting for half of global output.

Qin insists that NIO isn't planning to go head-to-head with Elon Musk's company. "Maybe Tesla will sell less.after our product is out". Nio plans to set up 1,100 such power-swap stations by 2020. "If we can be ourselves and we do what we think is right, we will have our market share".

Building that infrastructure "will be a big challenge in China", Qin said.

Those batteries promise the highest energy density of its kind with a 2,000-charge lifecycle. The ES8 can be charged at stations that will allow the batteries to be swapped in only 3 minutes while a mobile service also travels to vehicle owners who need to charge their cars.

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Buyers can also opt for a subscription service on the battery, which includes "battery upgrading services, along with quality assurance, roadside assistance, auto connectivity, and nationwide charging services", according to the company. However, this lead has largely been erased without the company achieving financial viability. The company claims it has two charging solutions to make the life of EV owners more enjoyable, and while none of them is particularly original, it would still become the first to put them in practice.

Founded in 2014, Nio unveiled the ES8 in Beijing on Saturday at a base price of 448,000 yuan, or $68,947, before subsidies. NIO says its driver assistance system supports over-the-air updates so its vehicles can gain new features as they become available.

- Steven Jiang contributed reporting.

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Battle of battery cars: China NIO's SUV versus Tesla's Model X