NIO drives into the mainstream with its first mass-production car

The NIO ES8

The Chinese-backed electric car start-up staffed by some of the automotive industry's biggest talent has taken the wraps off its first ‘real-world' production model, a seven-seat SUV called the ES8, at Auto Shanghai.

This year's Shanghai show is overflowing with electric cars from a host of companies both established and up-and-coming. And while it's certain that the likes of Audi and VW, which both showed off cutting-edge plug in concepts, will still be in business when their cars are scheduled to go into production, the fate of many of the other firms, particularly those hailing from China, displaying their automotive wares this year is less certain.

However, there is no uncertainty surrounding NIO, the cars it's capable of building, or the technology that will underpin them. It has already built an all-electric supercar, the EP9, and used it to set lap records at the Nurburgring and the Circuit of the Americas. And now that it's got everyone's attention, it's taken the wraps off a very clean-looking SUV, which is set to go on sale in China within the next 12 months.

"[The NIO ES8] is another statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities," said NIO Founder and Chairman, William Li. "It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles."

Although NIO is yet to confirm the car's final performance specifications -- they'll be announced as the car comes to market= - it will be underpinned by the same technology found in the NIO EP9 supercar. It's capable of covering 427km (265 miles) on a single charge, so expect a similar if not better range, plus a system that enables owners to either fast-charge the battery or swap it out completely for a fresh cell.

Alongside the ES8, NIO also announced pricing and availability details for the NP9 supercar. Now that six examples have been built and delivered to company investors, a further 10 models are planned and they will retail for $1.48 million each.

But each will be built to the client's specific tastes and each one will be capable of hitting 100km/h in 2.7 seconds, hitting a top speed of 313km/h and, in the right hands, lapping the Nürburgring Nordschliefe in seven minutes, 5.12 seconds, a world record for an electric car.