the NextEV-olution

Whoever said that electric cars aren’t exciting? Just because the performance cars of the future may not all be equipped with those lovely, noisy internal combustion engines, doesn’t mean that the joy and thrill of owning and driving a supercar, and the lifestyle that comes with it, will die – far from it in fact. So, forget about the the CitiCar and the G-Wiz, because electric cars just got awesome.

At a launch event at the Saatchi Gallery in London, Chinese start-up brand NextEV launched its stunning new EP9 supercar under its new NIO brand. Designed to showcase NIO’s technical capabilities and ambition, this incredible machine has already achieved a new lap record at the daunting Nurburgring Nordschleife, lapping the ‘Green Hell’ in 7m 05.12s and making it the fastest electric car in the world.

To put that into perspective, that’s quicker around the fearsome 12.9-mile circuit than a Nissan GT-R NISMO, Gumpert Apollo Speed and Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition.
Nelson Piquet Jnr – who races for NextEV’s Formula E team – believes that the car could go even quicker: “We weren’t using maximum power at any part of the lap”, said the Brazilian.

“We had to run at less than 90% otherwise the batteries would get too hot. If we took away those heat issues, I think that we could get close to the ultimate lap record (6m 48:00s).”

The EP9 also smashed the EV lap record at French circuit Paul Ricard by more than 45 seconds: “We were only lapping four seconds slower than an LMP2 car”, commented Piquet, the inaugural Formula E Champion.

This is a car that pushes current EV technology to its limits. Equipped with four high-performance inboard motors – one on each wheel – with an individual gearbox for each, the EP9 delivers one Megawatt of power, or the equivalent of 1,341bhp (exactly same power output as the Koenigsegg One:1). The EP9 will reach 60mph in 2.7 seconds, but perhaps most impressively NextEV claims that it will hit its top speed of 186mph in just 15.9 seconds.

Electricity comes courtesy of two lithium batteries, housed within the sills, which are interchangeable, can be charged in 45 minutes and have a range of 265 miles.
Despite the two lithium-ion batteries weighing 635kg between them, the EP9 is still extremely light at 1,735kg, thanks to a carbon fibre monocoque chassis and bodywork, which has been sculpted to give maximum aerodynamic performance. At 149mph, it is claimed to produce 2.4 tonnes of downforce – think F1’s ground effect cars of the 1970s – and incredible braking forces of up to 3.3G (when equipped with slick tyres).

“What surprised me most was how much downforce it has”, said Piquet’s NextEV Racing team-mate Oliver Turvey, “in the high-speed corners you can carry a lot of speed.”

NextEV is planning to build an initial run of just six NIO EP9 production cars, and whether they decide to build more remains to be seen. At a manufacturing cost of just under a million pounds, the price for customers certainly won’t be cheap, but it will heighten their desirability amongst collectors – and why not? The EP9 proves that you can have a clean, green, beautiful, exclusive, and ridiculously fast EV machine, with performance to make you scream. The only thing that’s lacking is the sound, but we might just about be able to live with that.

Words: Matt Upton

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