Ask any automobile manufacturer of their ambitions, and most will tell you that China is a market that they are keen to spread their metal and carbon fibre wings into – but China isn’t just sitting there waiting for western car makers to arrive, they have their own manufacturing industry too. The new Nio ES8 is being touted as a Tesla rival, which must make the Chinese start-up company very excited indeed. Not a bad start.

NIO ES8 front

The Nio ES8 is a 7-seater all-electric SUV with a promised range of a pretty decent 220 miles on one charge – and at around £50,000 (448,000 yen) it has got to be a tempting alternative to the Tesla Model X.

Each axle on the ES8 has an electric motor powered by a 70kWh battery, which gives the Nio ES8 a 0-62mph of just 4.4 seconds and that 220-mile range. I understand that Nio will also offer a more expensive version capable of a range of 311 miles too, though looking at the Nio website is an object in nice images and few words, not much insight there.

NIO ES8 rear

In China, Tesla does not qualify for any subsidies and also has to suck up additional import duty and taxes too, while the Nio is able to offer the ES8 at its current price in part thanks to government incentives. This gives Nio a massive head start in the home Chinese market. As for the car itself, it doesn’t look half bad inside and out – nothing too fancy, but it’s aiming itself squarely at the family market, where anything too striking or off-the-wall is likely to potentially put off potential customers rather than attract them.

NIO ES8

Inside, the cabin looks spacious and welcoming. There are calming curves everywhere and there looks to be minimal clutter. The dash has two LED displays with one being an iPad sized touch screen sitting on the centre console. The ES8 can self-park and respond to voice commands too. It also has a Tesla style autonomous driving package – the myriad of cameras and sensors allow the car to partially self-drive.

NIO ES8 interior

The Nio ES8 is also part of a battery incentive programme, which allows battery swaps at designated spaces in just 3 minutes. The same programme also offers an option that allows a vehicle to come to you to charge your car in case you get stuck (China is big). Although no actual charging times have been released as yet, we can expect the ES8 to fall in to the usual ballpark figures of around 1-2 hours.

While Nio hasn’t given any immediate hint of a European or US launch as yet, it’s very early days and according to their website the company does already have ties in London, Munich and San Jose interestingly.

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