New NIO ES8 electric SUV is a cheaper Tesla Model X

Nio brings in ES8 SUV with 355km range

The ES8, which starts at 448,000 Chinese yuan ($91,311) is half the starting price of Tesla's 836,000 yuan Model X in China.

Electric vehicle startup NIO has launched its first production auto, the ES8 - a fully electric SUV with 220 miles of range, fast charging that will top off the battery entirely in one hour of charging, battery pack swapping capabilities for thee-minute refuelling and more. The seven-seat vehicle will be able to accelerate to 100km per hour in 4.4 seconds. Customers interested in purchasing the ES8 can place an order through the Nio App.

The startup plans to build more than 1,100 power-swap stations in China by 2020 and have more than 1,200 "Power Mobile" service vehicles.

A few months ago, China announced that it would slowly step away from conventional-powered vehicles in favor of cleaner, more sustainable electric ones, and they're willing to pay for it.

The ES8 is a 7-seater full-size SUV and the vehicle was introduced over the weekend by chairman and founder William Li.

In October, China's Ministry of Commerce confirmed that Tesla was negotiating with the Shanghai government to build a production facility in the country after reports surfaced that Tesla and the Shanghai government reached a deal to establish a wholly owned electric-vehicle factory in the city's free trade zone. "It's hard to say".

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Owners of the ES8 can charge their cars at stations that allow their batteries to be swapped in three minutes, Nio said in a press release.

It is also planning to offer mobile charging with vans equipped with battery packs and on-board chargers.

China's state-backed fervour to push the EV market and its technology has attracted global giants such as BMW and Volkswagen to join the frayalongside Chinese tech titans Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

The launch of the ES8 comes amid a rising wave of "Tesla challengers", a clutch of mainland start-ups such as NIO, Byton and Xpeng that are in a race to be the next big electric vehicle major.

Founded in 2014 and formerly known as NextEV, Nio is in fact backed by investment holding conglomerate Tencent. And there is market speculation that NIO is eyeing an initial public offering next year, though Li declined to comment. However, Li said there is no specific deadline for an IPO, rather it will "depend of the development of the company".

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