As progressive and successful as these cars may be, they suddenly look quite old against the ET7. This is not only due to the elegant design of the 5.10-metre-long saloon, which is very aerodynamic and futuristic looking. And it's not because of the cabin, which under the double panoramic roof is firstly more spacious than the German premium electric vehicles and secondly finds the best balance so far between the barren sobriety of a Tesla, the antiquated layout of a Porsche and the digital opulence of a Mercedes.
Rather, it is mainly due to the almost unwavering belief in future-proofing that Nio installs as standard in the ET7. On a small scale is the Nomi, the charming blob on the dashboard, which is much more than a voice control, because it gives the operating system a face, gets to know the occupants better with every mile, constantly picks up new words and offers new help and thus becomes a digital companion over time.
This might be the most visible of the tech, but there is plenty more. This is mainly centred around the self-driving tech. The ET7 is not (yet) legally allowed to do anything more than any Tesla or Mercedes, but it already has everything on board that is needed for completely driverless driving – from the radars and lasers in the distinctive humps over the front windscreen to the four Nvidia processors in the boot, which have more computing power than 100 Playstations and process more data per minute than Netflix sends through the digital ether for a long movie in the best quality.
Driving, on the other hand, is also possible, should the owner want to take control. And that, too, is more than competitive. Programmable steering, anadaptive chassis with air springs, the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal and the strength of the recuperation – all this changes at the push of a button and makes the Nio either a comfortable cruiser or a snappy performance saloon that can compete with many a sports car not only in terms of pure performance, but also in terms of driving experience. It makes a reviewer's job tricky, as the Nio can be pretty much whatever you want it to be.
The driving force comes from two electric motors with 180 kW in the bow and 300 kW in the rear, which, according to the old currency, together add up to 653bhp with up to 850 Nm to all four wheels. No wonder the ET7 shoots to the benchmark 62mph in 3.8 seconds, only to be caught unusually early at a 120mph top speed. That won’t be a concern for many British buyers, but may raise an eyebrow in unlimited Germany.
Nio ET7 Range, Battery and Charging
Where the ET7 seems to be lagging behind is with the batteries. Because with 75 and 100 kWh for 240 or 315 miles, they are at the lower limit of the competition. With a maximum of 130 kW charging power and at best 40 minutes for the first 80 percent, they are also unusually slow.
But the first impression is deceptive. After all, Nio is currently the only manufacturer to rely on battery replacement and therefore "charges" as fast as combustion engines refuel. Within five minutes, a robot in a kind of vending machine garage replaces the empty pack and installs one that is actually 100 percent charged. The only catch: While there are already over 1,100 exchange stations in China, there are only three in Europe. Nio plans to have 20 on the continent by the end of the year.
There are more plans too, with a promised solid-state battery in the first quarter of the next year which will give a range of more than 1,000 kilometers – that’s 620 miles – with super-fast charging if needed.
Nio ET7 Price
There are other grand ideas, some of which we have already seen from other brands. Instead of retailers, Nio relies on an online shop and so-called Nio Houses, the first of which will soon open in Berlin. And where other manufacturers have to provide an expensive workshop network, Nio has brought 14 service partners on board, but the customer will never get to see them. Because if there are problems with the car, then a team comes to the customer, repairs on site or leaves a replacement car there.
There will also be innovative ways to buy the cars, with subscription being the favoured option over outright purchase for Nio. Besides other factors, this will mean customers are far more accepting of the battery swap idea, as they will never actually own the battery pack themselves, so won't be precious about it being swapped. Monthly costs of around £1,000 are expected.
Nio ET7 Practicality
There are no complaints about the amount of space for passengers inside the Nio, and the seats are exceptionally comfortable. But there are niggles. The lack of frunk isn’t a deal-breaker, but the small boot opening and a fixed (rather than folding) rear seat could be. There isn’t even a glove box for your mints and ice scraper.
Nio ET7 Verdict
It looks good and drives well, has future-proof technology, a promising charging system and also envelops the customer with the charming Nomi, who even shoots selfies on command while driving.
The big news for Nio won’t be this large saloon, but instead will be the EL7, a large SUV, and the ET5, a mid-size saloon, with deliveries set to start in January and March 2023 respectively.
It’s easy to suggest that every new electric car start up is the new Tesla. But with the innovative charging options and future-proof tech, Nio does have the hallmarks of success.