NIO ES8: European start in Norway

The NIO ES8 will soon be sold not only in China but also in Norway. Does the car have what it takes to survive in Europe? Test drive, technical data, possible price.

  • NIO ES8: Designed in Munich, manufactured in China
  • Giant SUV with impressive driving performance
  • Ready to start in 5 minutes thanks to the removable battery

NIO ES8: European start in Norway

The industry in China can build many bit perfect cars, the Chinese have not yet succeeded. Sentences like these were long considered a law. Since brands such as Byton, Airways, and NIO have been developing innovative electric cars, the existing certainty is very much in question.

In contrast to the company Byton, which failed on the last few meters before the first production start, NIO now also comes to Europe with the model ES8. We had already seen a long time ago how well the car can be driven and whether it could gain a foothold in the demanding European market.

Nomi: Funny facial voice operation

The outside dimensions are impressive: With a length of around five meters and a width of two meters, the NIO ES8 fits seamlessly into the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 ranks. A Tesla Model X in the parking lot looks almost a little delicate next to the China import. The weight of the NIO ES8 to Tesla is almost identical to the weight of the gram: The Chinese give 2460 kilograms, the Model X weighs 2459 kilograms.

Model X and ES8 are not only the same size and weight, but they are also a seven-seater and all-wheel. In addition, both offer stunning performance: While Tesla gives its Model X Performance two electric motors with a maximum power of 449 kW/611 hp, NIO is slightly behind with 400 kW/534 hp total power.

The power of the Chinese giant (725 Nm output torque promises the data sheet) should be enough to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. 

And just as breathtaking is the acceleration with the slightly more powerful pre-production model compared to the series version.

  • When the driver comes to rest again, he can finally also turn to the voice control system called "Nomi". Nomi looks at us with smiling eyes all the time. 
  • However, communication is proving to be difficult. 
  • The Nomi in our test car only understands Chinese Mandarin. 
  • Well, then I just start the sound system, which I recognize on the tablet-sized display at the center console. 
  • Nomi immediately rocks with a guitar in his arm in the beat of the music.

Chassis and steering as in the BMW X5

The vehicles were designed by NIO in Munich. The technical development is located in the greater area of Shanghai. The vehicle production was taken over by the Chinese automobile manufacturer JAC. The founder of NIO is Internet billionaire William Lee. The company does not lack money and know-how.

The idea to develop and build electric cars came to William Lee back in 2012. Two years later, the start-up started, entered Formula E under the name NextEV and in 2017 achieved a lap record for electric vehicles on the Nürburgring with the 1000 kW EP9 road sports car. At the same time, NIO is developing technologies for autonomous driving.

As a core competence to be developed, the Chinese have undertaken the electric motors and the batteries. The necessary know-how for car construction is bought all over the world. An existing perfect chassis, according to the credo, does not have to be redeveloped. And so the standard air suspension of the NIO ES8 comes from the German supplier Continental. The steering system is also from Germany, supplied by Thyssen.

Both components are also installed in the BMW X5, but are tuned differently in the NIO, it seems. More comfortable, softer, less direct. Just like the average Chinese driver likes it. The business with cars has long been extremely international, the limits for know-how are becoming ever more permeable.

Battery: Battery change in five minutes

In the ADAC test car, a battery pack with an energy capacity of 70 kWh was installed, enabling a range of up to 355 kilometers. Only then, you must not drive at 200 km/h on the freeway. Anyone who does it will realize not only that the battery is emptied in no time, but also that the NIO ES8 is located very well and stable on the road. According to NIO, a standard battery of 75 kWh and a long-range version with 100 kWh with WLTP ranges of up to 375 and 500 kilometers is planned for Europe.

To make recharging as convenient and carefree as possible for the customer, NIO has installed battery change stations in China. Just as we drive to the car wash, ES8 customers in China are heading for a swap station. There the car is automatically jacked up, a robot releases ten screws from below, takes out the empty battery, and replaces it with a full one from the warehouse. It doesn't take five minutes. So about as long as the conventional petrol tank includes payment at the checkout.

Conclusion: First Norway, later also Germany

The NIO ES8 from China has good cards, even under the eyes of European customers, to pass. The ES8 offers - in addition to a lot of space, a lot of comforts, and sporty driving performances - technical innovations such as the voice control system Nomi. By the way, NIO promises a completely new customer experience thanks to battery change stations and service networks.

If NIO successfully establishes itself in Norway, it may be a matter of time before the manufacturer transfers his sales concept to other European countries. You can be curious when Germany's turn comes. Perhaps yes, with the start of production of the NIO ET7, the first electric car with a solid-fuel battery. The Chinese are aiming for 2022.

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