Next EV will step up to the plate against Tesla Motors with its upcoming all-electric SUV. Image Source: Car Scoops

NextEV, a Chinese startup dedicated to the manufacturing of electric sports cars has recently stated its intent to distribute a new SUV model in the United States to serve as a competitor to the current market leader, Tesla Motors.

Jack Cheng, co-founder, broke the news at the launching event for the company’s first road car, the EP9, a few weeks ago. NextEV began developing prototypes for the Formula E racing series, later trademarking its NIO brand which started with the model above.

The EP9 sports EV, the company claims, is currently the world’s fastest fully electric automobile. Initial testing took place at a German 13-mile racing track known as the Nurburgring, which the car lapped in an impressive seven minutes and five seconds.

This new SUV will be the first truly commercial endeavor of the NIO brand

The as-of-yet-unnamed Tesla competitor will have a 70 kWh battery pack and a range of 330 miles, according to Cheng. He also said that the vehicle was “as good as or better than the Tesla [Model X] but cheaper.”

Tesla’s Model X currently enjoys a certified EPA range of 250 to 257 miles, though Tesla’s official website claims that it tops 289 with its 100 kWh battery pack. This range translates to 310 miles on the European NEDC testing cycle, which is the same that NextEV is currently using.

The Chinese company’s electric SUV will position itself on the same level as Audi and BMW (regarding quality) but will come with a Toyota price, Cheng added. They expect North American sales to begin in late 2018 or early 2019.

Senior design director for NextEV, David Hilton, has described their sportscar mentioned above (the EP9) as a “bridge” between their previous Formula E vehicles and this new SUV, which gives an idea as to what type of product the company is trying to create.

NIO also plans to succeed where Tesla failed: the Customer Service department

William Li, NextEV’s principal founder, has stated his intention to provide Chinese customers with better company assistance, something that he believes Tesla has repeatedly failed to do. It allegedly took him three months to install a Tesla charger on his house, he revealed to a journalist at the EP9 unveiling.

The NextEV SUV will begin manufacturing in China through a partnership with the one of the nation’s leading automakers, JAC Motors. NextEV saw the light in 2014 and employed Ford of Europe’s former chair, Martin Leach, as its co-president until his death in November.

Source: Automotive News