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Nio ET5 Is China’s Tesla Model 3 Killer - 1,000km Range, 3 Minutes To ‘Full Charge’

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Nio ET5 Is China’s Tesla Model 3 Killer - 1,000km Range, 3 Minutes To ‘Full Charge’

Unveiled at the firm's annual 'Nio Day' showcase, the sleek and compact (if a little nondescript) ET5 is the Chinese automaker’s newest electric vehicle. Judging by that silhouette alone, it's unsurprisingly aimed squarely at the Tesla Model 3.

The ET5, corresponding to that name, is the brand’s 5th production model, soon to join an all-EV range comprising the EC5, ES6 and ES8 SUVs and the imminent ET7 luxury saloon.

2022 Nio ET5 - Launch

Nio says the car's pronounced rear haunches were designed to evoke its EP9 prototype supercar, sure, but the rest of it toes the line between sleek and sterile. Perhaps it's for improved aerodynamics as, among other features, the ducktail spoiler, flush door handles, frameless windows and sculpted front air intakes seem intent on helping the car cut through the Beijing smog as efficiently as possible.

Pricing will commence from around RM217,000 in China, or slightly less than the average dual-motor Tesla Model 3, with deliveries in its home market set to start in September 2022. Nio also has global ambitions for this model, meaning a European introduction is in the cards for early 2023.

2022 Nio ET5 - Launch

Nio's European advance has already begun with a brand launch in Norway, and by 2022 they plan to be selling cars in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. At the car's premiere, founder and CEO William Li announced that Nio will, by 2025, have a presence in more than 25 countries.

Unlike the Model 3, the ET5 – built on the same Technology Platform 2.0 architecture as the ET7 – is offered exclusively with a dual-motor electric powertrain, which pairs a 200hp asynchronous motor on the front axle and a 290hp motor at the rear for a total combined output of 490hp and 700Nm. The 0-100km/h sprint is dealt with in supercar-rivalling 4.3 seconds, but that's table stakes for EVs these days.

2022 Nio ET5 - Launch

Crucially, the ET5 will be among the first production electric vehicles to feature fast battery swapping, which is a core component of Nio’s business model and technological differentiation.

Apart from long wait times during charging (even the fastest of fast chargers take many times longer than filling a tank with petrol or diesel), the performance and capacities of lithium-ion batteries are known to inevitably degrade over time. As a result, very pressing concerns have been raised about the viability of their use in EVs as mass adoption looms.

Nio’s answer is ‘batteries as a service’ with buyers paying a subscription fee to have the batteries in their cars be easily and regularly replaced when the charge has been depleted, taking those above concerns out of the equation entirely.

Nio Battery Swap Station

With their cars engineered with this modularity and battery cross-compatibility in mind, Nio claims that the entire ‘swapping’ process can be completed in under 3 minutes. What’s more, with this service costing owners a recurring fee, there is less to be paid upfront for the car itself, reducing the price of ownership by up to around RM45,000, depending on the battery capacity chosen.

Speaking of which, the ET5's selection kicks off with a 75kWh Standard Range version with a claimed range of more than 550km. Above this, the 100kWh Long Range unit bumps the range past 700km and finally the range-topping 150kWh Ultralong Range battery boasts a claimed range of more than 997km.

2022 Nio ET5 - Launch

If you're not keeping track, this is more charge-to-charge endurance than any production EV currently available in 2021. And, by having the battery swapped, the fact that you can have the ET5 ready for another 1,000km marathon in less time than it takes for a typical song to start and finish playing is potentially revolutionary.

By the end of 2022, Nio anticipates that it will have more than 1300 battery swap stations in operation across China. It also recently signed an agreement with Shell to expand its battery swapping infrastructure into Europe as it lays the groundwork for its expansion outside China.

2022 Nio ET5 - Launch

Inside, and Like the ET7, the ET5 has a mostly featureless dashboard that's punctuated only by a slanted and vertically oriented touchscreen infotainment display, digital gauge cluster and panoramic roof. Even the air conditioning vents are almost entirely obscured. Luckily, there's a 256-colour ambient lighting system to help curb the monotony as well as a standard-fit Dolby Atmos certified audio system.

Jim Kem

Jim Kem

Content Producer

There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.

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