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NIO ES8 — The Chinese Electric SUV Outselling The Tesla Model X

By Zachary Shahan

The NIO ES8 is one of the first models from electric vehicle startup NIO. At the moment, it only sells in China, but the company may one day expand into Europe or even the United States and Canada.

NIO is a unique company in a few regards, and the ES8 itself holds some records. This page will explore the ES8’s specs, special features, pricing sales, and positioning relative to some top competitors.

Before we launch into that, though, be sure to not confuse the ES8 with its younger brothers (or sisters), the ES6 and EC6. The young ES6 now sells in higher volumes, but it is smaller and costs less than its trailblazing big brother. The EC6 is likely to be the brand’s top seller when it arrives in volume, but it is even smaller and cheaper still.

NIO ES8 Range & Battery Capacity

The ES8 comes in two battery sizes, with a third coming later this year. The driving ranges of these different trims and their battery capacities — based on the NEDC rating system — are as follows:

  • 415 km — 70 kWh battery
  • 485 km — 84 kWh battery
  • 580 km — 100 kWh battery

NIO ES8 Acceleration

The ES8, despite its very large size (we’ll get to that), has the acceleration of a sports car — a fast sports car. The version with the largest battery can sprint from 0–100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. That’s faster than a Tesla Model 3 SR+!

The other NIO ES8 options (70 kWh or 84 kWh battery) can make the dash in just 4.9 seconds, almost as quick as the Tesla Model 3 Long Range (4.6 seconds). Good luck finding a more exciting SUV anywhere in the world. (The Model X Performance is the quickest SUV ever produced, hitting 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, but it comes at a steep premium — $20,000 more expensive than the Model X Long Range in the US, and similarly more expensive in China.)

NIO ES8 Cargo & Passenger Space

The ES8 is a beast — a true passenger SUV. Even the 7 seat version provides ample space in the 3rd row so that passengers there don’t feel claustrophobic, as they might in a Tesla Model X or other SUV with a tighter 3rd row.

This is because, at 3,010 mm, the ES8 has the longest wheelbase in its vehicle class. The full dimensions are as follows:

  • Length: 5022 mm (197.7 in)
  • Width: 1962 mm (77.2 in)
  • Height: 1756 mm (69.1 in)

NIO ES8 Battery Swapping

NIO Power battery swapping

NIO coming out of a battery swapping story. Credit: NIO Power.

One of the big special features all NIO vehicles offer is battery swapping. Instead of having to charge your car, if in a hurry (or just because you want to), you can go to a NIO battery swapping station. Within a few minutes, you can drive out with a new, fully charged battery.

This system never took off for any other automakers, and most didn’t try, but it seems to be a popular option for NIO customers in China.

At the moment, there are 139 battery swap stations in 62 cities in the country. The network has completed over 650,000 swaps. The number is surely growing all the time.

One extra special option with this feature is that you can upgrade your battery at these stations. Say you’re driving an ES8 with a 70 kWh battery and you decide that you now want more range. You can go to a battery swap station and upgrade to an 84 kWh or 100 kWh battery (when that becomes available later this year). Yes, it will cost more than a carwash, but NIO is providing this option quite economically, for just $5,500 for an upgrade from the 70 kWh to 100 kWh battery for the NIO ES8 Founder’s Edition Users, and $7,000 for everyone else.

NIO ES8 — Other Special Features

The ES8 hosts the Mobileye EyeQ4 chip for support with driving. “NIO Pilot has more than 20 advanced driver assistance features and supports software over-the-air updates,” NIO writes. The company has completed 35 major FOTA updates in the past 2 years.

The ES8 also offers an Intelligent Fragrance System, premium Nappa leather, and a variety of interior finishes. It offers more of the traditional luxury many consumers expect in this class of vehicle than a more minimalist Tesla Model X provides.

The electric SUV also has a few other features you’d expect in a luxury vehicle, like top-line LED taillights and sweeping turn signals.

NIO ES8 Pricing

The ES8 starts at just about $70,000 in China. The lowest cost Tesla Model X sells for $110,000 or more there. You could basically buy one and a half ES8s for the price of one Model X Long Range.

NIO ES8 Sales

With all of the above information in mind, it probably will not surprise you to find out the ES8 outsells the Model X in China and thus wins the vehicle sales title for its class.

In the first half of this year, there were 2,451 NIO ES8 sales.

That beats the 1,886 half-year sales of the Tesla Model X.

Indeed, the ES8 is seeing 30% more sales than the Model X.

In May 2020, Tesla delivered 98 Model X vehicles compared to 766 ES8 cars. In June 2020, Tesla delivered 432 Model X SUVs while NIO sold 1,256 ES8s.

Since the middle of 2018, NIO has completed 22,910 ES8 sales versus only 17,904 sales for the Tesla Model X — a difference of more than 5,000 cars.

There’s a decent chance NIO’s sales could be even a lot higher if consumer awareness was higher. As word gets around to more and more people, the ES8 should be able to steadily improve its production capacity and segment share.

NIO ES8 vs. Tesla Model X

The article above has surely made it clear — the ES8’s top competitor is the Tesla Model X, but the ES8 has these key conclusions going for it:

  • Far cheaper than Model X.
  • Similar space, but more headroom and legroom for ES8 passengers, especially those in the third row.
  • Battery swapping as an option, including easy battery upgrades.
  • Traditional luxury interior.

Unsurprisingly, then, the ES8 is heavily outselling the Model X. More importantly, though, as consumer awareness grows regarding these models, there’s much more potential for the ES8 to see increased sales if you simply look at how objectively competitive it is.

At the moment, the ES8 is #1 in its vehicle class. No contender seems equipped to take the title away from it.


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