Chinese customers can now buy the ES8 SUV for $67,783, compares with $79,500 Dollars for Tesla's Model X. The SUV comes with a range of 311 miles on a single charge, the company said late Saturday in Beijing.
Shanghai-based startup NIO is the latest Chinese company to try to get in on the action.
NIO's ES8 is now on pre-sale, so customers can sign up to reserve the initial shipment of vehicles, which is expected to come out starting in the first half of 2018. As a result, the country has emerged as the world's biggest electric vehicle market, surpassing the United States.
After raising over $1 billion from investors led by Tencent Holdings Ltd, NIO is gearing up for the next phase of growth in the world's biggest electric-car market. These companies want to rival Tesla with smart electric vehicles that feature internet connectivity and new technologies, and by leveraging their understanding of Chinese consumers.
"Of course, we can compete against Tesla, technologically and product-wise", he said.
Another angle NIO is going after is convenience. "If we can be ourselves and we do what we think is right, we will have our market share". The start-up company aims to build over 1,100 "Power Swap" charging stations and launch over 1,200 "Power Mobile" vehicles by 2020.
Nio is offering also offering a battery rental plan is available to ES8 customers, with a rental subscription of 1,280 yuan ($193) per month. And the high population density in larger Chinese cities means people can't install charging facilities in their own garages, he explained.
The owners of the ES8 can charge their auto by swapping batteries at power-swap stations in three minutes or recharge with the help of "Power Mobile" service vehicles that travel to motorists. "We are able to apply our full-vehicle expertise to help make the vehicle lightweight while at the same time helping deliver power to the wheels in the most efficient way". NIO pointed out on Saturday that the base price for its new SUV was listed "before subsidies". It further earns its Tesla comparisons through a driver assistance system that features 23 sensors, including a trifocal front-facing camera, four surround exterior cameras, five millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a driver monitor camera. However, this lead has largely been erased without the company achieving financial viability.
- Steven Jiang contributed reporting.