Does the EC6 have what it takes to compete with Tesla in China?

NIO's highly anticipated EC6 electric SUV began production at the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center in Hefei. This marks an important milestone for the struggling EV manufacturer who's fighting market headwinds as well as the rippling effect of the coronavirus in China. 

It's clear the coronavirus is taking a toll on all industries in China, but recent reports indicate much of the automotive sector is doing its best to maintain manufacturing and keep their factories operating. NIO's press release even made mention of the problem, and attempted to ease concerns:

"The launch of the EC6 production at the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center not only demonstrates the plant’s capability to efficiently resume production whilst effectively preventing and controlling COVID-19, but also further deepens the strategic partnership between NIO and JAC. EC6 is NIO’s third mass-produced model successfully launched in the JAC-NIO plant in two years. This success is underpinned by the pioneering efforts of NIO-JAC’s strategic cooperation that combines the significance of Internet thinking and advanced manufacturing." 

NIO EC6
Start of production of the NIO EC6

In addition to the EC6 SOP (start of production), NIO and the Hefei municipal government announced the signing of a framework agreement for establishing NIO China’s headquarters in Hefei.

Although NIO is announcing SOP now, customer deliveries aren't beginning until September, and pricing and specifications aren't expected to be released until July. We suspect they are beginning to produce pre-production EC6s now, and giving themselves 6 months to fine-tune production before job 1.

InsideEVs was a guest of NIO's at their annual NIO Day event in December when the EC6 was officially unveiled. We witnessed a high degree of enthusiasm within the company as well as their customers for the EC6, and believe NIO has a lot riding on the success of this model. 

NIO EC6

Sales for NIO's first two vehicles, the ES6 and ES8 haven't quite lived up to expectations, prompting some analysts to question whether NIO will survive in the long run. With the EC6 comes hope that NIO will gain a bigger share of the EV market in China, and begin a road to stability. 

Nio is positioned as a premium EV brand in China, with pricing on par with Tesla's offerings. The EC6 continues along that line and offers high-performance and a luxurious interior. It will take you from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds and has three battery offerings. The base model has a  70kWh battery, but there are 84kWh and 100kWh battery pack options available. All of NIO's battery packs have liquid thermal management systems and are physically the same size. They have to be interchangeable because of NIOs battery swap stations.   

Gallery: NIO EC6

NIO's battery swap service is free and unlimited. Customers can swap it for the same size battery without charge. If you want a larger battery, say for a road trip, you can rent one for about $10 per day.

Will the EC6 help to save NIO? We're not certain about that because they are facing tough competition from the rest of the EV industry, and Tesla in particular. The EC6 is kind of like a cross between a Model Y and a Model X. It looks more like a Model Y, but it's closer to a Model X in size. 

There's a lot of stiff competition in China in the electric SUV market, and established premium OEMs like BMW and Mercedes will be launching all-electric SUVs in China this year and that will only add to NIO's challenge. However, the battery swap service that NIO offers is unmatched by any of its competitors, and NIO's customers love it, so that's a distinct advantage for the brand.

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NIO Kicks Off EC6 Production and Signs Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement with Hefei Municipal Government

 

On Feb.25, the production of EC6, NIO’s smart electric coupe SUV, kicked off at the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center in Hefei. At the ceremony, An Jin, Chairman of JAC, and William Li, Founder, Chairman and CEO of NIO, together with senior officials of Anhui provincial government and Hefei municipal government, attended the official launch of the production. Li Jinbin, Secretary of Anhui Provincial Party Committee, Li Guoying, Governor of Anhui, Deng Xiangyang, Executive Vice Governor of Anhui, Song Guoquan, Secretary of Hefei Municipal Party Committee, and Ling Yun, Mayor of Hefei, had all attended the event.

EC6, a smart electric coupe SUV, is the third NIO model to be manufactured at the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center. The car was unveiled at NIO Day 2019, and its pricing and specifications are expected to be released in July 2020 with deliveries beginning in September.

EC6 carries forward the high-performance DNA of NIO’s product family. It sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. In addition to the 70kWh and 84kWh battery packs, EC6 also will be equipped with the new 100kWh liquid-cooled battery pack released in 2020, boosting the NEDC range up to 615km. 

The launch of the EC6 production at the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center not only demonstrates the plant’s capability to efficiently resume production whilst effectively preventing and controlling COVID-19, but also further deepens the strategic partnership between NIO and JAC. EC6 is NIO’s third mass-produced model successfully launched in the JAC-NIO plant in two years. This success is underpinned by the pioneering efforts of NIO-JAC’s strategic cooperation that combines the significance of Internet thinking and advanced manufacturing. 

Earlier that day, at the NIO House in the JAC-NIO Advanced Manufacturing Center, NIO and the Hefei municipal government signed a framework agreement for establishing NIO China’s headquarters in Hefei. The senior provincial officials also watched a battery swap demonstration and visited the EC6’s production lines.  

About NIO Inc.

NIO Inc. is a pioneer in China’s premium electric vehicle market. Founded in November 2014, NIO’s mission is to shape a joyful lifestyle for its users by offering premium smart electric vehicles and being the best user enterprise. NIO has brought together global talents and established R&D centers and manufacturing facilities in Shanghai, Beijing, San Jose, Munich, London and five other places; NIO has initially set up the user service network with nationwide coverage in China. In 2015, NIO Formula E team won the inaugural FIA Formula E Drivers’ Championship; in 2016, NIO launched EP9, one of the world’s fastest electric vehicles, which broke lap records and the world’s autonomous driving records in global-famous tracks like the Nürburgring Nordschleife; in 2017, NIO unveiled the vision car EVE. NIO started the deliveries of the ES8, a 7-seater high-performance premium electric SUV, in China on June 28, 2018. On September 12, 2018, NIO went public on NYSE. NIO officially launched the ES6, a 5-seater high-performance premium electric SUV, on December 15, 2018 and began the first deliveries of the ES6 on June 18, 2019. In December 2019, NIO officially launched the EC6, a smart electric Coupe SUV, and the all-new ES8, a fully elevated smart electric flagship SUV.