Anaemic motors and limited range once consigned electric cars to mundane low-speed city duty, but that's no longer the case, with electric supercars and crazy-fast sedans proving battery-power can be fun and usable. NextEV says its new car, the NIO EP9, takes the fun to all new levels, with a powertrain that borrows heavily from Formula E.
You could be forgiven for wondering who NextEV is – we certainly did. The company has been involved in Formula E since the series began in 2014, powering Nelson Piquet Jr. to the first ever FIA Formula E Driver Championship. It has seen some success on the track, but the Chinese company has never built a road car, although the launch of the NIO sub-brand and the EP9 sees that change in dramatic fashion.
It doesn't have a catchy name, but the NIO EP9 lands with an incredible set of claims about performance. There are few sterner tests of a car's dynamics than a lap of legendary racetrack Nurburgring, but NextEV says its supercar will lap the Nordschelife (the track's famous North Loop) in just 7:05.12 – making it the fastest electric car to complete a lap. It's not just quick for an EV, it's also faster than the Nissan GT-R Nismo, and the Dodge Viper ACR.
Power comes from four inboard-mounted electric motors, each of which is hooked up to its own gearbox. NextEV is claiming the system makes exactly 1,000 kW (1,360 hp) for a 200 km/h (124 mph) sprint of just 7.1 seconds, on the way to a 313 km/h (194 mph) top speed. Beyond its performance, the EP9 also makes use of an interchangeable battery system, and can be charged to offer 427 km (265 mi) of range in just 45 minutes.
The list of big claims goes on and on. NextEV says the car will pull 3.3G under braking, thanks to Alcon brakes measuring 408 mm (16 in) both front and rear. Four-way adjustable dampers work to keep the car flat and planted at high speeds, and the bespoke wheels can be wrapped in proper slick tires.
"The NIO EP9 was born to push limits and is the first stage of automotive production for NIO. It is a statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles," says NextEV Founder and Chairman, William Li. "We believe that when the car ownership experience exceeds expectations, electric vehicles will become the natural choice for everyone, leading to a more sustainable tomorrow."
Behind the wheel, NextEV has tried to create a pseudo-racing feel for the driver with a multifunction steering wheel and big, clear digital readouts. It all looks incredible, from the slick exterior to the carbon-heavy cabin, but we are always a little skeptical of startups making enormous performance claims. It'll be interesting to see if NextEV is able to make the NIO consistent and reliable, or whether its crazy performance claims are a one-off flash in the pan.
You can watch the NIO EP9 lapping the Nordschleife in the video below.