Chinese EV firm NIO – formerly NextEV – unveils its vision for autonomous electric transport at SXSW
NIO – a recent rebranding of Chinese firm NextEV – has announced that it will bring autonomous electric vehicles to the US market in 2020. The company also unveiled “NIO EVE” – an illustration of its vision for the future of autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs).
Following on from the unveiling of the NIO EP9 supercar in November, the latest NIO concept was shown off in Texas during Austin’s SXSW festival. Impressive though it is, it has already drawn fire from rival Faraday Future, in light of some design similarities.
According to the company, the concept model “showcases the future of autonomous driving. From daily commuting to road trips, from school runs to nights out, EVE constantly learns about its occupants and their preferences.”
To accomplish this, the company says the vehicle will be guided and controlled by NOMI, an artificial intelligence engine with an intuitive human interface. Other gadgets abound – NOMI will apparently use the vehicle’s active glass to provide an “augmented vision for occupants and for new kinds of entertainment.”
Other hallmark AEV features, such as the more open cabin, are on display too. The company states that:
Doing away with conventional A and B pillars of the car and using optimized door cuts, the comfortable and inviting interior is accessed through a wide forward-sliding door. The fixed seats are belted and positioned to deliver flexibility and an enhanced feeling of openness. In the primary seating area, a discrete folding table creates work or play space, while a luxurious seat that reclines and allows for relaxation or even sleep. The forward two seats, accessed from the main interior, enjoy an enhanced panoramic view, with digital displays provided on the active glass when needed to support non-autonomous driving.
US CEO Padmasree Warrior commented: “Today we also unveiled our vision for the car of the future, focused on delivering unmatched user experience through leading edge, software defined hardware.” Warrior continued, “NIO’s autonomous electric cars will make your journey safe, productive and enjoyable. Our cars will be your companion and will know your needs, they will be a welcoming living space that moves you. We look forward to producing the first of the next generation of cars for the U.S. consumer. We know you will be delighted by NIO.”
The company also brought news of its record-breaking EP9. Following the car’s performance on the Nürburgring Nordschliefe, in which it lapped the 20.8km ‘Green Hell’ in 7m 05.12s, beating the previous EV lap record held, it managed a similar feat at Circuit Paul Ricard in France, recording a time of 1m 52.78s, eclipsing the previous record of 2m 40s.
NIO now reports that on February 23, the EP9 drove autonomously without any interventions, recording a time of 2m 40.33s at a top speed of 160 miles per hour. The same day, the NIO EP9 also beat the fastest COTA lap time for a production car, achieving a lap time of 2m 11.30s and reaching a top speed of 170 miles per hour.
With four high-performance inboard motors and four individual gearboxes, the EP9 delivers 1-MegaWatt of power, equivalent to 1342BHP. The EP9 accelerates from 0-124 mph in 7.1 seconds and has a top speed of 194mph.