Nio presents the EL8 for Europe

Nio has unveiled its new flagship model for Europe, the EL8. The luxury SUV with six seats is now available to order in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in September.

Image: Nio

In the new European markets, the vehicle is marketed as the EL8 because of the brand competition with Audi. In other countries, it is still marketed as the ES8. The model has been around for some time in China and Norway, among other countries. However, Nio is now presenting it on the current platform and with a major update as the completely revamped luxury class leader in its portfolio. The six-seater luxury SUV, which is over five metres long and powered by electricity, is now available to order in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. It costs 82,900 euros without a battery (but plus a monthly battery hire fee), or 94,900 euros with a battery. The first units will soon be shipped by sea from China so that deliveries can begin in September.

As the vehicle is manufactured in China and exported, Nio is affected by the provisional special tariffs that the EU Commission intends to introduce on electric cars from China in July. In an official statement, Nio emphasises that this does not restrict its European plans: “Nio’s commitment to Europe’s electric car market remains unwavering and we will continue to serve our users.” At the Nio branch in Frankfurt, where the EL8 was unveiled this week as well as in the other European branches (so-called “Nio Houses”), the customs duties are not intended to kill the premiere mood – so they are not a topic of the official part of the event. However, in response to our enquiry, Stephane Burger, Regional Manager South West at Nio, said that customs duties will be an issue for Nio. According to the manager, Nio has positioned its pricing for the EL8 in such a way that it can be maintained even in the event of special tariffs.

Many of the EL8’s technical specifications are familiar from the drive system of the ET7 premium saloon, which has been available in Germany for some time. Both luxury models are based on the NT2.0 platform, and have two battery options (100 or 75 kWh gross) and the familiar 480 kW twin engine. The EL8 is therefore an all-wheel-drive vehicle by definition. In contrast to the ET7 saloon, however, the full-size SUV will be at the fast charger for much less time in future: Nio is giving it 240 kW DC charging power, which should speed up the charging process from 10 to 80% SoC to around 20 minutes (on chargers with 660 amps). However, this only applies to the EL8 with a large battery. In the standard version, it continues to charge with the 125 kW DC previously available for all models. Incidentally, the managers present in Frankfurt are not hopeful that the other existing Nio Stromers will soon be able to charge at 240 kW DC. For the time being, this function is reserved for the EL8 Long Range.

Up to now, Nio has not pushed the upper limits of fast charging like other manufacturers, as changing the battery provides a second alternative for quickly getting a full battery again. Nio has now changed its mind with the EL8, as charging performance has been identified as a criterion in the company’s purchasing decision. In an interview in Frankfurt, Stephane Burger stated that it was reassuring for buyers just to know that their vehicle could charge so quickly. Even if the charging power peak is often less relevant in practice than expected. With an AC charger, the EL8 charges at the usual 11 kW.

What else? With its dimensions of 5.10 x 2 x 1.75 metres and a wheelbase of 3.07 metres, the EL8 is naturally an imposing sight. With 410 kW (180 kW from a SiC permanent magnet motor and 300 kW from an induction motor), the powerhouse is said to take its 2.5-tonne kerb weight from 0 to 100 kph in 4.1 seconds. Depending on the battery, Nio puts the range at 390 or 510 kilometres according to WLTP, and the drag coefficient as an indicator of aerodynamics at 0.25 Cd – a pretty good value for an SUV that is rather tall per se.

Inside, the model offers three rows of seats, each with two seats – a total of six seats. In the standard version, the two seats in the second row are separated by a centre aisle. In the ‘EL8 Executive’, the aisle is replaced by a centre console with a refrigerator, which is also designed to do the opposite – namely heat up food. The base price of this version is 5,000 euros more expensive than the standard version.

In principle, the configuration with two seats next to each other still allows an acceptable vehicle width. Benjamin Steinmetz, Nio’s Product Experience Director for Europe, speaks of a new “interior package”, which allows the width of the ET7 saloon to be kept to just under two metres – although the SUV with its obligatory body shape is more bulky.

Nio categorises its new flagship as a luxury family car or – see the Executive variant – as a business car. Passengers under 1.80 metres sit comfortably in the third row of seats, but those who are taller will feel the roof lining, as the roof line of the model drops slightly towards the rear before dropping steeply towards the rear. The thin rear seats can be folded down, increasing the boot capacity from 265 litres to 810 litres. That shows that the EL8 is not designed as a luggage space miracle. Instead, Nio endeavours to provide passengers with as much space as possible and to make the journey as comfortable as possible with a wide range of seat adjustment and massage options. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that the towing capacity is two tonnes.

Visually, the EL8 follows the design language of the Nio electric vehicle models already available. The include the slightly smaller EL6 and EL7 electric SUVs as well as the ET7 and ET5 saloons (including its estate offshoot, the ET5 Touring). All of them stand out with narrow front headlights, flush door handles and an overall minimalist, streamlined appearance. The EL8 also features flush-mounted windows, cameras integrated into the wings and indicators and front and rear windscreen wipers concealed in the body components.

Other features of the luxury SUV include the chassis with dual-chamber air suspension and “Continuous Damping Control” for ride comfort independent of the surface. There is also 5-zone heating, a surround sound system, special lighting and 20-inch tyres as standard, which can be replaced with 21 or 22-inch tyres as an option. Nio also emphasises safety features – be it airbags or a total of 24 safety and driver assistance systems.

According to Nio, an improved 16.3-inch head-up display will make its debut in the EL8, complementing a 12.8-inch display in the centre of the cockpit and a 6.6-inch display in the rear. Also on board is Nio’s well-known AI voice assistance system NOMI Halo “with an updated and improved version of NOMI Mate, which is available as an option for both NIO EL8 models”, according to the manufacturer. Specifically, the voice control has been equipped with new GPT functions.

The NIO EL8 was unveiled in Frankfurt in a dark green colour called Nebula Green. The model is available in five exterior and three interior colours. Optional equipment includes 21-inch or 22-inch rims, a trailer coupling and a Premium Comfort Package (hot-stone massage function in the first and second rows, ventilated seats in the second row and heated seats in the third row).

Finally, a few words about the pricing, which is always somewhat complex with Nio due to the battery hire offered. Interestingly, the base price of 82,900 euros applies to both variants of the EL8 – regardless of whether with a small or large battery. Buyers then have to pay different amounts for the monthly battery hire, namely 168 euros for the small battery and 289 euros for the large battery. Added to this are any costs for using the battery swapping stations. If you want to buy the model including the battery (and, conversely, do without battery swapping), prices start from 94,900 euros for the standard version and from 103,900 euros for the long-range version.

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