THIS could be a moment more pivotal than we realise. In registering a 6:45.9 lap of the Nordschleife, the Nio EP9, a car developed by Chinese FormulaE outfit NextEV, might have driven another nail into the coffin of internal combustion.
It’s worth putting that record in a frame of reference though. Stefan Bellof still holds the all-time record of 6:11 in a Porsche 956 and Nio’s claim on the production car lap record seems fairly tenuous given that only a handful of these cars have ever been built. The original production run was scheduled to comprise just six cars at A$2m each (US$1.48m), but demand has now seen Nio add another ten build slots to that list.
Piloted around the Green Hell by Le Mans veteran Peter Dumbreck, the EP9 generates a monstrous megawatt of power (1000kW), is all-wheel drive with four separate motors, four-wheel torque vectoring, active suspension and the most powerful brakes ever fitted to a production car. It has a top speed of 313km/h and will accelerate to 200km/h in 7.1 seconds.
Last year the car set a laptime of 7:05 at the Ring and claimed the EV crown at the circuit but with better conditions that record has been whittled down, eclipsing the previous king, the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, by more than six seconds. It even beat the contentious 6:48 mark set by Radical in their SR8LM, a barely disguised club racer.
The Nurburging lap is part of a series of record assaults by the EP9, with new marks claimed at Laguna Seca and Circuit Paul Ricard. The 1:52.78 mark at Paul Ricard is 13 seconds faster than the McLaren P1 GTR managed and would make the Nio EP9 competitive with a 2015 model LMP2 car around the circuit. Some of these marks ought to be taken with a certain pinch of salt for a roadgoing car, the Paul Ricard mark in particular being set on slick tyres. What’s more, at present there has been no video released of the record lap.
In February, the Nio EP9 lapped the Circuit of the Americas while driving autonomously in 2:40.33 which is just 19s slower than it managed when a racing driver was behind the wheel. In other words, the RingTaxi drivers might need to start looking for a new line of work.
The tech behind this car is dizzying but it looks good too, the exterior design work performed under the aegis of David Hilton, a man with the Ford Focus RS and the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept on his resume. The interior’s the work of Jochen Paesen, the stylist who penned the interior of BMW’s i3 and i8.
Nio has shown that it’s not just a manufacturer of niche hypercars either, having unveiled the ES8 last year, an electric seven-seat SUV. But for now, this could mark a watershed. It’s the moment that the electric supercar has come of age. Has the baton been permanently passed on? Things may never be the same again.
Prior 7:05 Electric EV Record
7:05 Electric EV lap in-car
Behind the scenes NIO EP9