NIO is finally launching its first vehicle, the ES8, and its first NIO House in Europe — specifically, in Oslo Norway. In the beginning of September, we already had a real-life demonstration of the ES8, an opportunity we took to thoroughly inspect and review the vehicle. If you haven’t read those articles or seen our videos on the ES8, we highly recommend you do.
The biggest mystery that remained was the pricing of the vehicle for Europe as well as the pricing for “Battery As A Service,” where you can buy the car without a battery and get a major discount on the vehicle.
“Battery As A Service” is possible because, unlike a regular EV that you can only charge, here you can also swap an empty battery for a full one at a highly automated swapping station within a mere 3–5 minutes. BaaS as it is also called is absolutely huge because this ability comes with many benefits that even we have yet to fully analyze. For example, you can pay less and use a smaller 75 kWh battery and swap it for a 150 kWh battery on the way out of town if you plan on making a long trip. No, dear reader, that was not a typo, because in 2023 NIO will launch a 150 kWh solid-state battery that all existing vehicles with BaaS will be able to use, and while the range for that battery was not announced, simple math would put it at around 750 km (466 miles) of range. Another problem that BaaS solves is that you never have to worry about battery degradation, or even an unlikely situation where you get a large bill to repair a broken one — you just swap it and let NIO deal with it.
Tesla often says that its cars don’t depreciate because they keep getting better. When it comes to NIO, this is even more true since in addition to all the really great stream of updates NIO introduces at a steady pace, when larger batteries like the upcoming 150 kWh battery — or ones that can charge faster — become available, your car will actually get significantly more range and charge faster than when you bought it.
The Cost of the NIO ES8
According to NIO’s presentation, the NIO ES8 will start at 51,344 euros ($59,463), with a monthly subscription of 138 euros ($160) per month for the 75 kWh battery or 198 euros ($229) per month for the 100 kWh battery. However, upgrading or downgrading — for, let’s say, a long road trip — is possible at any time.
If you choose to purchase the ES8 with a battery, then it will cost 60,230 euros ($69,791) for the 75 kWh version or 91,305 euros ($77,630) for the 100 kWh version. NIO is also launching a signature edition with a cool badge and additional services we will list in a moment. The cost of the signature edition without a battery is 59,243 euros ($68,664), with the same BaaS subscription service prices as the regular ES8. With a battery, the signature edition costs 68,147 euros ($78,959) for the 75 kWh version and 75,071 euros ($86,981) for the 100 kWh version.
By comparison, a Model X costs 103,840 euros ($120,328) in Norway and a Model Y starts at 52,880 euros ($61,275). In other words, when bought without a battery, the purchase price of the ES8 is lower than the competition and it is thus very competitive. However, even with a battery, the price is not that far from the base Model Y. More interestingly, the ES8 is currently NIO’s most expensive vehicle and is very luxurious in ways that a Tesla just isn’t, especially when it comes to seats that are heated, ventilated, give massages, and in the case of the front passenger seat, it even turns into a first class bed with leg support and foot rests.
EXCLUSIVE: Signature Edition Functions
So, what does the NIO signature edition have that the regular ES8 doesn’t? The signature edition has: Nomi mate 2.0 (the robot head that turns to people), Nappa leather (instead of regular leather), active lane change and navigate on pilot, 21 inch aluminum wheels (instead of 20 inch), auto-dimming exterior side mirrors, microfiber ceiling (rather than regular fiber), an enhanced HUD that shows navigation information, an improved audio system with more speakers (more information to follow in future article), and finally, but very importantly, the signature edition has the front seat massage function.
We already detailed some of the unbelievably unique services NIO offers to customers in our previous article, which includes our interview of the general manager of NIO Norway, Marius Hayler. However, now, besides the announcements, we also talked to NIO about its plans to roll out its services in Europe. Here is what they had to say.
First of all, NIO will have a mobile service fleet, not unlike that which Tesla has, where a lot of issues can be solved on location without having to take the car to the service center. However, unlike Tesla, if mobile servicing is not possible and the car does need to go to a service center, rather than waste a lot of travel time and getting a few Uber points to get home, NIO for a price will actually pick up your car for you and return it to you. In China, it is often even able to do it in a day, so when you are done with work, the car is just where you left it and you can simply expect that whatever issue it had has been resolved.
Also unlike Tesla, NIO will not try to only make its own service centers, but will instead partner with existing service centers, which the company calls NIO Authorized Service Partners.
Warranty and Services
The car has a 6 year or 150,000 km warranty that includes free roadside assistance, a mobile internet allowance of 8 GB per month, a free level 2 home charger as well as a type-2 cable, and for those who choose to not pay for BaaS, you still get 2 free battery swaps per month and 200 kWh of electricity, either swapped or charged.
Having said that, NIO has even more benefits for all those who order a the signature edition ES8 before March 1st, 2022. That also includes 4 years or 60,000 km of free maintenance, 15 GB of mobile data per month, and the fact that NIO will help install your free home charger. NIO’s service, where they pick up your car, perform maintenance on it, and return it to you will be free (complimentary) the first 4 times. Then, finally, for those who don’t get BaaS, you get 6 free swaps per month and 600 kWh of free power per month.
What happens after those 6 years is as of right now unclear, since that is so far away. All that they know is that all the services you will have now become accustomed to will still be available, but for a price.
We unfortunately did not get a chance to try out the English version of the NIO app because it doesn’t exist yet. However, the app for the Norwegian market is out now and can be downloaded by anyone in Norway, whether you have a NIO vehicle or not. You are welcome and invited to join the community that they are trying to build. NIO did confirm that this app will in most ways be practically identical to the one the company offers in China, with a major focus of bringing NIO’s customers together using their own social network that even includes a point system. Though, whether services like designated driver or the sale of things like wines, cakes, or art will take place in the Norwegian market has not yet been decided. Tomorrow we hope to have video footage of the Norwegian app with translations.
Battery Swap Station Network Expansion
Some of our readers and viewers were already willing to criticize the lack of battery swapping stations available in Europe, even though the company hadn’t even launched a car on the continent. If anything, this and other concerns have made it very clear that people will need to adjust to the concept, learn to trust this function, and get educated on all of the implications that are not necessarily straightforward. First of all, in Norway alone, the company has now announced that after it finished installing 5 swapping stations before the end of this year, it will have 20 in that country alone by the end of next year. However, while the exact plans are not yet known, we have now clarified that the 1,000 battery swapping stations NIO wants to install outside of China before 2025 will be mostly in Europe. So, when NIO does announce plans for expansion into other continents, it will announce a new battery swapping station number. In the coming weeks, we will also publish an analysis article running some numbers on how this could all work out for Europe.
EXCLUSIVE: Fast Charging Just Got Better
In our previous article, we had stated that the currently software-locked charging rate has a peak of 90 kW. However, it appears that NIO has actually improved that performance via a software update and now the peak charge rate is 120 kW. We also have more information about the previous fast charge curve that was software limited to 90 kW. As we had suspected, the vehicle is able to maintain a charge rate close to the peak throughout most of the charging cycle. A chart below will show you an internal test NIO performed of the charge cycle before the update. Furthermore, while locked to 90 kW, the ES8 with a 100 kWh battery could recharge from 20% to 80% within just 30 minutes.
Performance with the new update is still a bit unclear. According to anecdotal evidence one of the NIO engineers provided, the car was able to maintain a charge rate close to 120 kW throughout a good part of the charging cycle. However, because he was in a rush, he disconnected the charger well before 80%. If and when the charging rate drops off remains unclear. If everything goes according to plan, we will test this together with NIO tomorrow and update this part of the article to reflect our findings. Nonetheless, this increase should significantly shorten the charging cycle. Currently, I hope that the car will be able to charge from 20% to 80% in just 20 minutes. However that is just optimistic hope — we will know more soon.
What is also important to point out is that this is just the beginning. Once NIO releases new batteries, like the 150 kWh solid-state battery the company talked about today, which all ES8 owners will have access to in the future through battery swapping, these charging rates could improve even more. NIO’s fast charger network that the company will deploy in addition to the battery swap stations can charge at a power output of 180 kW, so there is for sure room to grow. Though, once again, nothing is coming to the market anytime soon that can beat a 3 minute battery swap that, when calculated, equals a charging rate of 10,000 km per hour instead of the mere ~500 km/h most vehicles get right now by supercharging at a power rating above 100 kW.
Where’s Tesla’s or Apple’s showrooms are practically identical worldwide and are strictly for viewing and purchasing products, the NIO House is an entirely different concept. It is in essence a community center with books, a café, a place for people to hang out, an accessories and merchandise gift store, and there happen to be some NIO vehicles around that you could explore. The location will have weekly yoga classes, cooking classes, and various other events for people of all ages and walks of life.
However, other than that, each NIO House will be unique in design, and will also offer a unique drink to try. The first NIO House in Europe is in Oslo, but the company also plans to launch smaller showrooms called NIO Space. Currently, the company thinks the next NIO House will be in another European country. My gut feeling says that is likely to be Germany, but in general the company aspires to build a NIO House in large cities or places with a large NIO community. However, in the case of NIO House Oslo, mere words will not do it justice, so tomorrow we will be publishing a video tour of the place.
NIO Gift Shop (NIO Life)
Just as in China, NIO is introducing its tried and true point system that can be used to buy accessories, merchandise, pay for fuel or service, and more.
You might wonder, how do you earn points? Well, the system is rather complex, there are a bunch of things you could do, each giving various levels of points, so in a separate article tomorrow we will give some examples of how much you can earn through various actions as well as examples of what you can spend those points on.