Nio ET5 promises colossal 620-mile range – but miles ain't miles
Chinese electric vehicle brand Nio has debuted a new mid-size family sedan with a battery option for all-day driving. The ET5 can be specified with an "ultra long range" pack that delivers up to 1,000 km of driving – although all might not be as it seems.
The ET5 will be a sprightly drive, with peaks of 360 kW (483 horsepower) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) through a two-motor AWD system. It'll hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds from a standing start, which will handily see off most combustion cars at the lights.
It's got a tidy cabin, a nice big 12.8-inch touchscreen, a 7.1.4 surround sound system, mood lighting, a panoramic sunroof extending into a sweet fastback and a generally classy, understated sort of look about it. It's got a voice assistant called Nomi, which is "now smarter and funnier" – I wish I could say the same about myself. You can bring along a set of goggles or glasses, and it'll treat you to an "immersive AR/VR panoramic in-car experience," if you're into that sort of thing.
It aspires to autonomy, and while Nio doesn't make it abundantly clear exactly what it'll be capable of doing for itself when it hits buyers' garages in September 2022, it's got enough "Nio Aquila Super Sensing" and "Nio Adam Super Computing" to do the job when software and regulations allow. Nio will switch on the "Nio Autonomous Driving," or NAD, system in stages as a subscription service. So customers are going to have to rent their own NADs; truly we are living in the future.
So far, so electric car. The ET5's banner feature, though, is its battery pack. Not the standard 75-kWh one, mind you, or the 100-kWh long range pack. The killer here is a 150-kWh "ultra long range" battery pack that Nio says enables a range "over 1,000 km" (620 miles).
That's the biggest range claim we've seen yet on a consumer EV, walking all over the impressive 520-mile EPA range that the Lucid Air Dream Edition Range pulls from its 118-kWh battery pack, verified earlier this year.
But range figures ain't range figures. Nio's 1,000 km is claimed on the Chinese CLTC standard, rather than the WLTP standard generally used in Europe and the USA. The CLTC test is designed to reflect typical Chinese driving conditions, and as such it's a very different looking test. Where the WLTP test averages 46.42 km/h, the CLTC averages 28.96 km/h. Where WLTP maxes out at 131.3 km/h, CLTC maxes out at 114 km/h. Where the WLTP test uses an average acceleration of 0.53 m/s/s, the CLTC test averages 0.45 m/s/s.
Essentially, the CLTC figures reflect a more urban, start-stop style of driving, where the WLTP figures challenge electric cars with higher speeds, harder acceleration and less time spent idling. That's not to say the ET5 won't outlast the Lucid Air on the highway; indeed, if it used its energy as efficiently as the Air, that huge battery should get about 660 miles (1,062 km) on the same EPA test. It's just to say that the two range figures are apples and oranges.
Nio will launch the car in China first, starting at 328,000 RMB (US$51,500), and the company is looking to expand its network outside China to cover 25 countries worldwide by 2025.
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Most people won't need this range.