China electric vehicle maker Nio has launched its first model to the mass market in a domestic market filled with competition including companies like Tesla.
Nio’s new ES8, which has a base price of 448,000 yuan or $67,756, is just half the base price of Tesla’s Model X that in China starts at 836,000 yuan or $126,470.
Nio has the advantage of state subsidies from Beijing for electric vehicles. The chairman and founder of Nio, William Li said he did not know how the launch of the ES8 would affect sales for Tesla in China.
Li added that Tesla might sell less, once the ES8 is out, or more likely, since the market is currently growing, they will maintain growth.
However, Li did say that many customers that Nio has, have turned from Tesla to them and many have also bought and continue to buy products from both companies.
ES8 is a seven-seat electric vehicle that is made to order, equipped with its own artificial intelligence system. The customizable car will have an acceleration of zero to 62 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds. Orders for the ES8 can be made via an app.
The battle for market share in electric vehicles in China is heating up sparked by the drive of the central government to cut severe air pollution, which has become politically sensitive, across the country.
Beijing continues to provide large subsidies and makes state investments in the EV sector, including building charging networks.
At its Saturday launch, Nio introduced a plan for battery charging, with a subscription for rental at 128,000 yuan or $19,350 per month.
ES8 owners can charge their vehicles at stations that offer swapping out of their batteries in just three minutes, said Nio in its press release.
A mobile service will travel to owners of cars who need to have their vehicle charged.
Nio is planning to build more than 1,100 charging stations its calls Power Swap, and deploy more than 1,200 of its Power Mobile units by 2020.
The state-supported push of the China EV market along with its technology has enticed international auto giants such as Volkswagen and BMW to join in along with tech giants from China – Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
U.S. based Tesla also is planning to start its own production of EVs in China, which is the largest market in the world for EVs. Sales in China of new-energy vehicles surged 51.2% between January and November 2017.