As any Tesla fanboy will remind you of happily, the future of electric vehicles isn’t that bleak. Sure, you still have cars like the Nissan Leaf reminding you that it wasn’t long ago that going green meant giving up the car worth owning for a suppository with short range that was only sexy to Sierra Club members and nothing more. Acceleration has gone from near-nonexistant to blunt-force brutal, the designs are ditching frumpy for stylish, and if you haven’t done any YouTube searches for Ludicrous Mode-induced Tourette’s Syndrome attacks, treat yourself…they’re actually pretty funny. We can dig electric vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles, on the other hand, still feel like a step too far. For the most part, an autonomous vehicle pretty much removes the joy of driving and turns the experience into another round with an appliance…the anthesis of why we all love what we do. But whether you want to admit it or not, that’s on the horizon and it is coming, short of government action banning it. And we don’t see that happening anytime soon.
But can these worlds exist as one? If NextEV has their way, the answer is yet. Meet the NIO EP9. It looks like a Koinegsegg with a re-skinning, has a megawatt of power (translated: 1,341 bhp) and will use 7.1 seconds to go from 0-124 MPH before topping out at 195 miles an hour. It’s not brutal supercar territory, but for an EV, that’s pretty damn impressive. It’s also got a Nurburgring lap time of 7 minutes, five seconds under it’s belt, which puts it on par with a Nissan GT-R Nismo and an AMG-Mercedes GT-R, and ahead of a Dodge Viper ACR. It’ll hustle. It’ll hustle nicely, but it’s the performance at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas that should be noted.
What’s impressive about the COTA testing of the EP9 is that it made two official times. The first, a production car record, 2:11.30, was with a driver on board. The second, 2:40.33, was set autonomously, “without any intervention”. The difference in lap time can partially accounted for by the reduced speed of the car…for the manned lap, the EP9 saw 170 MPH, while the autonomous lap was reduced down to 160 MPH. The figures are impressive, no doubt, and there’s little doubt that the $1.2 million EVs will find buyers as production starts, because everyone wants to have the hottest and latest. But from where we sit…we appreciate an EV that can run a blistering lap. But where that autonomous figure is concerned, we aren’t bothered. It’s just an expensive remote-controlled toy at that point, and that doesn’t do it for us.