The electric, self-driving supercar with 1360 hp and 4671 lb-ft of torque just beat the production car lap record at COTA.
Last year, the NIO EP9 ran around the Nurburgring in 7:05, making it the fastest electric car to ever lap the famed track. NIO just took the EP9 to the Circuit of the Americas where it put down a 2:40 lap timeâ€“without a driver, making it the fastest autonomous car to drive the circuit. With a human behind the wheel, the EP9 managed a 2:11 with a top speed of 170 mphâ€“quicker than any production car at COTA.
Both are incredibly impressive, though not entirely surprising given the EP9's specs. The car is based around a carbon fiber monocoque built to FIA LMP1 specs and features an electric motor at each wheel, allowing for precision torque vectoring adjusted in real time. Added up, those four motors produce 1360 horsepower and an astonishing 4671 lb.-ft. of torque.
To put the EP9's manned lap in context, cars in the World Endurance Championship's LMGTE Pro ran qualifying laps in the mid-2:04 range before last year's Lone Star Le Mans. So, the EP9 is an electric road car that laps COTA less than seven seconds behind the best GT race cars in the world. Not bad.
The most puzzling thing about the NIO EP9, though, is that it seemingly came out of nowhere. NIO is a brand created by Chinese electric car startup, NextEV, which just last year opened up an office in Silicon Valley. The NIO EP9 is the first vehicle unveiled by NextEV, but as of yet we don't know whether the company plans to put it into production in some form or another. NIO will hold a launch event next month at SXSW in Austin, so perhaps we'll hear more about the company's plans then.
Really though, we just want to drive the EP9â€”or let it drive us.