EXCLUSIVE: Third-Generation NIO Will Be Made Of Carbon-Fiber, Says NIO Chairman

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(Chinese Version)

Chinese EV supercar maker NIO is to launch its third generation supercar soon, adding carbon fiber materials to this new model.

On the morning of June 22nd, NIO signed a purchase contract with carbon-fiber composite suppliers KDX and KDF, agreeing that they would provide a large scale of carbon-fiber spare parts for NIO.

Carbon fiber materials have long been an distinct feature of super supercars. As a matter of fact, NIO has already been using carbon-fiber materials in the cockpit of EP9, which is priced at $1.48 million. However, it now seems that NIO attempts to bring carbon-fiber materials to the general consumer market.

TMTPost learned that the contract was worth as high as over RMB 1 billion, and that NIO estimated that the total demand of NIO’s supercars  in the next five years could reach 650,000.

While KDF possesses large-scale production lines of carbon-fiber automotive parts, KDX has set up research and design centers of carbon-fiber materials in Munich, though both KDF and KDX are subsidiaries of Kangde Group.

Prior to this contract, KDF and KDX had already signed a carbon-fiber mass production contract with BAIC, agreeing that they would provide carbon-fiber materials for B802, a car specially made for high-level Chinese government officials. Therefore, NIO’s order would be the biggest one Kangde Group have received.

Based on public information, NIO is, quite for sure, going to adopt carbon-fiber materials in its next generation mass-production supercar model.

During the Shanghai International Auto Show, NIO released its second generation mass-production models NIO ES8. This 7-seat SUV adopts Novelis' aluminum alloy auto-body design and will be officially launched on the market in 2018. At that time, Wan Sui, NIO’s market manager, already revealed to TMTPost that NIO’s next generation mass-production electric car will use carbon-fiber composite materials. The day after ES8 wa released, Li Bin, chairman of NIO, also said publicly that they would introduce carbon fiber materials to their next generation car model.

“NIO’s next generation mass-production supercar, that is, its third generation supercar models, is called ES6. As a mid and large-sized SUV, its direct target is going to be Audi Q5, which will be launched in February 2019. Judging from the production cycle and practice, NIO’s third generation supercar is going to be launched around May and June in 2019, if not later,” an insider revealed to TMTPost.

The Chinese government’s energy-saving emission reduction policies and the natural disadvantage of electric cars determine that new energy electric car makers have to try their best to make their models as lightweight as possible. Only then can they reduce energy consumption and increase mileage at the same time.

NIO once claimed that it would set up an adequate number of charging piles to solve the major problem of electric vehicles: short mileage.However, this means both high input and and high technical requirements. However, by using lightweight materials such as aluminum alloy, high strength steel and carbon-fiber, they can not only can effectively save energy, but also significantly improve the performance of electric cars, especially in terms of shock absorption and acceleration, etc.

It is learned that lots of Chinese car markers, including SINGULATO, QIANTU, Chery New Energy, BAIC, Chang’an, have already been testing aluminum alloy materials in their new energy models. Among them, Qiantu  K50 adopts the aluminum alloy structure and uses carbon-fiber composite materials on the auto-body panel. An insider from Qiantu revealed to TMTPost that they are also going to use more carbon-fiber materials in their second-generation car model.

Speaking of cost, although  aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy and other metal materials are less expensive, they often require lots of  traditional processes, including riveting, stamping, etc., which all means corresponding  investment in the construction of production lines. In fact, NIO once teamed up with JAC and set up an aluminum stamping production line in Anhui province.

In contrast, although the cost of carbon-fiber is higher, it could significantly reduce the weight of supercars and save cost in traditional production line construction, including stamping, welding, riveting, polishing and other and construction.

In the past, a major problem with carbon-fiber was the high cost. However, Zhong Yu, chairman of Kangde Group, once predicted that the cost of carbon-fiber would fall below the average of aluminium alloy in the next five years. NIO’s launch timetable for its third generation supercar also proved the prediction.

Recently, it is widely discussed in the Chinese internet world that Tesla is going to set up a factory in China, while Tesla also made it clear that they would settle on relevant plans at the end of this year. Looking ahead, will NIO rise into a major rival against Tesla’s China adventure? Maybe only time has the answer.


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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Li Qin please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.] 

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.