Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio revealed its first sedan model, eyeing a greater share of the world's largest car market. The launch of the ET7, at an event in the western city of Chengdu, came as rival Tesla started selling its China-made Model Y sport-utility vehicle in the Chinese market.
The ET7 (see the debut at around two hours into the Nio Day 2020 video below) is expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2022. Nio is aiming to expand its product lineup to attract more customers. In China's passenger car market, sedans and SUVs each make up around 46% of overall sales.
Chief Executive William Li said Nio's new high-density solid state battery technology will give the ET7 a drive range of over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) between charges. The new battery technology will be made available to owners of Nio's other vehicles once the technology is in production.
The starting price for the ET7 sedan will be 378,000 yuan ($58,378) for the car without the battery pack, one of the most expensive EV components, which can then be leased from the company for 980 yuan ($150) per month. With the battery pack, the starting price is 448,000 yuan. Two battery pack capacities will be offered at launch, a 70 kWh and a 100 kWh pack.
Li said the ET7 will be fitted with lidar sensors — which help the car perceive its surroundings, and are often found in autonomous cars — to assist drivers, a technology dismissed by Tesla's outspoken chief Elon Musk.
The Californian automaker, which is selling Shanghai-made Model 3 sedans, has just started selling its Model Y vehicles at a starting price of 339,900 yuan. It uses cameras for driver assistance.
Nio, which delivered 43,728 vehicles last year, has a market capitalization of over $92 billion, surpassing conventional automakers Daimler and General Motors. Investors have poured billions of dollars into electric vehicle development.
It is currently selling three SUV models built at a car factory in China's eastern city of Hefei.
Nio's rival Xpeng also said on social media on Thursday that it plans to roll out a new sedan model. It currently has a sedan and an SUV in its lineup.
Nio also announced that it plans to have 500 battery swap stations operating by the end of 2021. Each station will keep 13 full packs in its inventory and will be capable of handling as many as 312 battery pack swaps per day.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.