Electric vehicle startup NIO unveils self-driving concept car at SXSW

NIO, an electric vehicle startup backed by Chinese venture capitalists, unveiled its first self-driving car concept at SXSW this weekend.

The NIO EVE is a “mobile living area” as much as a vehicle, and has been designed to accommodate long family journeys. The interior has reclining seats that can fold into beds and front seats that can rotate to face the back seats.

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The glass doubles as a display for entertainment or navigation purposes, similar to Volkswagen’s Sedric self-driving concept car or the BMW iNext. NIO did not say how it plans to manufacture the displays, which would need to be curved and tinted.

Like most manufacturers, NIO wants to build an artificial intelligence that can take control of the car and provide an assistant service. It is calling the AI NOMI, and did not say if it would have any other functionality. Surprisingly, NIO still wants the driver to be able to take control of the vehicle, although that might disappear in later concepts.

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NIO EVE concept car’s interior debuted at SXSW

NIO wants EVE to have a 600 mile range and a charging speed of 200 miles every 10 minutes. It said it also wants the EVE on the roads by 2020.

Both of those goals seem very ambitious and almost whimsical, considering NIO has yet to launch a commercial vehicle. It debuted the NIO EP9 late last year, the “fastest electric vehicle” with a 0-60 mph of 2.7 seconds, but has yet to manufacture the car.

NIO could reach all of its goals in three years, but the startup does reek of Faraday Future-like hype, when we haven’t seen anything concrete to prove it is capable of manufacturing and commercializing a self-driving vehicle.

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