NextEV launches fast, electric hypercar
The NIO EP9 is the fastest electric vehicle round the Nurburgring. Zero to 62mph in 2.7 seconds with zero tailpipe emissions.
That's the promise from Chinese electric car brand NextEV, which has launched a $1.7 million hypercar that has embarrassed the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Pagani with a lap record around the Nurburgring circuit.
Called the EP9, it's the first model in the NIO brand under the NextEV banner. Just six will be built with a secret British partner, and all will go to investors in the brand.
A Tesla P100D could still claim bragging rights in a straight line, with its 2.5 second 0 to 60mph time (the measure Tesla uses), but the EP9 is likely to beat it in anything other than a drag race.
According to NextEV, the EP9 has lapped the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife -- a 14.17-mile circuit in the German hills used by carmakers as a test bed for their high-performance models -- in 7 minutes and 5 seconds, making it the fastest electric car to circulate the undulating track.
In fact, just four production models have bettered the time: two Radical trackday road cars, a Porsche 918 Spyder and a Lamborghini Aventador SV.
The only problem with the EP9 is that it had to run at 80 per cent capacity to complete such a high-speed lap, and to recharge the batteries following that, it would need a 45-minute charge.
The EP9's timed lap was 17 seconds quicker than the previous record posted by an electric-only vehicle -- a Toyota EV P002 prototype race car.
It was also some way ahead of the best times set by the Audi R8 e-tron (8 minutes 9 seconds) in 2012 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive (7 minutes 52 seconds) in 2013.
NextEV has even tested it at the French Paul Ricard circuit, where it was only a couple of seconds shy of times set by LMP2 endurance racers.
So how has an almost unknown vehicle maker produced such blistering speed?
Much of the development has been passed down from NextEV's Formula E race team that competes against Audi, Renault and Mahindra in the electrified version of F1.
Brazilian, Nelson Piquet Junior, son of the three-time F1 title winner and a 28-time Formula One race finisher himself, is the number-one driver.
And the stats are certainly race-car like. From a standing start, the EP9 can hit 62mph in 2.7 seconds. While that's better than most road-registered models, it's still a shade slower than a Tesla Model S P100D.
But the NIO certainly has Tesla licked on top speed, which is a claimed 194mph.
All of this power comes from a 777-volt powertrain that develops 1 Megawatt of thrust. That's the equivalent of 1341bhp, which makes it more potent than the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder.
It uses two indirectly water-cooled lithium batteries hooked up to four electric motors powering each wheel. Think of it as a 4x4 with jet-fighter pace.
Just like a Land Rover, it's heavy and enormous in size, mainly as a result of the hefty 635kg battery packs.
Despite having a carbon fibre monocoque and bodywork, the overall weight is 1735kg -- almost 200kg more than a LaFerrari -- and the EP9 measures in at more than two metres wide. That's because the batteries aren't stored flat -- they're housed in stacks in the door sills to allow for a chassis-length diffuser underneath the car to improve downforce.
These battery packs can even be ejected from each side of the car when they're depleted and replaced with fresh ones in just eight minutes.
But how often will this $1.2 million high-performance vehicle need a fix of electricity? According to the spec sheet, it has a 265-mile range and can be fully recharged in just 45 minutes.
In the 100 per cent full-pelt setting, the chances are it would top the Nurburgring time sheets.
As well as the car-long tunnel running underneath the EP9, it features an adjustable front splitter and an active rear wing with three different positions depending on how much drag or downforce you want. A driver can achieve 2.5G in the bends.
Inside, it's a minimal affair: two carbon-fibre bucket seats, an F1-shaped steering wheel and four screens displaying lap time, speed and other performance-focused information.
You're unlikely to see one on the road, but the investors who are handed the keys are being encouraged to take them on track days to boost the brand's identity.