Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio has started the new year with a bang, revealing the company’s first autonomous vehicle that it will launch in Q1 2022, and eventually be available with an ultra-long-range and high energy density 150 kWh solid-state battery pack from Q4 2022.
Nio’s headline announcements all stem back to the release of the Nio ET7, the company’s flagship smart EV sedan which is being billed by the company as its “first autonomous driving model”. Nio unveiled the ET7 at an event on Saturday and accompanied the car’s reveal with announcements about its 150kWh solid-state battery packs and a partnership with American computer hardware stalwart NVIDIA.
The ET7 is the company’s first sedan model – following the company’s SUV/crossover models and its EP9 hypercar. Featuring three battery pack options providing a driving range of at least 500km with the 70kWh, 700km with the 100kWh battery, and over 1,000km with the company’s new 150kWh battery.
The new Nio 150kWh battery will also be available for the company’s three SUV models, providing the Nio ES8 with up to 850km, the ES6 with 900km, and the EC6 with 910km.
According to Nio, the new 150kWh battery packs an ultra-high density of 360 Wh/kg – 50% more than what can be found in the 100kWh battery pack.
Featuring the company’s latest Nio Autonomous Driving (NAD) technology – including Nio Aquila Super Sensing and NIO Adam Super Computing – the ET7’s autonomous technology will provide driving aids on a freeway, in the city, and at battery charging stations.
Nio’s NAD is made up of perception algorithms, localization, control strategy, and platform software, and is assisted by 33 sensing units including 11 8-megapixel high-resolution cameras, an ultralong-range high-resolution LiDAR, 5 millimetre-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, 2 high-precision positioning units, all of which can generate 8-gigabytes of data per second.
NVIDIA’s DRIVE Orin technology will power the automated driving technology, utilising the sensors which are seamlessly built into the body of the vehicle.
“The cooperation between Nio and NVIDIA will accelerate the development of autonomous driving on smart vehicles,” said Nio CEO William Li. “NIO’s in-house developed autonomous driving algorithms will be running on four industry-leading NVIDIA Orin processors, delivering an unprecedented 1,000+ trillion operations per second in production cars.”
“Autonomy and electrification are the key forces transforming the automotive industry,” said Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO. “We are delighted to partner with Nio, a leader in the new energy vehicle revolution—leveraging the power of AI to create the software-defined EV fleets of the future.”
Before subsidies, the ET7 will start at RMB 448,000 (around $AU90,000 converted), or RMB 378,000 ($AU75,000 converted) with Nio’s signature Battery as a Service (BaaS) subscription – which sees customers pay around RMB 980 (about $A198) per month so that they can swap a depleted EV battery for a fully charged battery in a matter of minutes.
An upgraded ET7 Premier Edition will sell for RMB 526,000 ($AU105,000 converted) before subsidies or RMB 398,000 ($AU80,000) with BaaS – though no mention of what exactly this “Premier Edition” entails or includes was revealed by the company.
Surprisingly, the ET7’s autonomous features will only be available under a subscription package of RMB 680 ($AU136) per month. Tesla has similarly promised a subscription model for its own autonomous features but has yet to deliver on this promise.