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Friday 31st March


What should I be paying?

You can’t buy an ES6 because you don’t live in China. But for those that can, this is where things get really interesting.

See, buying a Nio is like buying into a club. It grants access to any ‘Nio House’ – the company’s dealers/clubhouses that can be found in shopping malls in many of China’s biggest cities. These spaces, which are a bit like a Tesla Store crossed with an Apple Store crossed with a Starbucks, contain a publicly-accessible bit where prospective owners can buy cars, and an invite-only section (often a whole floor) for existing owners and their friends/family. These bits contain a coffee shop, library, children’s play area and even rentable office space. Would Brits use them? No clue – but they seem to work in China. We visited a couple while we were there driving the ES6 and both seemed reasonably well attended.

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Owning a Nio also gives you access to the company’s network of 123 power-swap stations – the only network of its kind anywhere in the world. Nio has lined three of China’s busiest expressways with these stations, and you’ll find some in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Though manned 24-hours a day, the process is entirely automated. Once the Nio man has manoeuvred your car into place, he goes into a little room and prods some buttons. Your car is then shuffled into place and lifted into the air. Its battery is unscrewed and a new, fully-charged one fitted. The whole process takes less than ten minutes and costs the equivalent of around £20. Each station contains five batteries at any one time, and can service 70 cars a day.

Of course you can charge the car too – Nio’s app is so good at keeping track of public chargers, a lot of non-owners rely on it. Getting the ES6 from zero to 80 per cent takes a little under an hour on a fast DC charger.

As well as the power-swap stations, Nio has a fleet of vans you can call upon for a quick charge. Simply hail one from the app, and a chap will drive to wherever you are to deliver the EV equivalent of a splash and dash – 60 miles of range in ten minutes.

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In its native China, the ES6 starts at 358,000 RMB, or around £42,000. Our top-spec Premier Edition ES6 is the equivalent of around £58,000. The cheapest Jaguar I-Pace, meanwhile, costs the equivalent of £73,000 in China, while the Tesla Model X is over £90,000. 

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