Ex NIU, Baidu exec leaps into the car game with NIUTRON electric SUV
You can’t say they didn’t warn us! Less than a month after NIU co-founder, Yinan Li, hinted that four wheeled vehicles might present better business opportunities than two wheeled vehicles, Li has brought us the incredibly well-finished product you see here. Meet the battery-powered NIUTRON NV, and expect big things.
Yinan Li is no stranger to either mass production or connected tech. Li’s track record as Chief Technology Officer at Chinese tech and AI firm, Baidu, was already stellar before founding NIU, which has become one of the largest manufacturers of electric and hybrid connected scooters, e-bikes, and Vespa-style mopeds in the world (if not the largest), with millions of units sold and billions of connected miles logged.
On to the NIUTRON NV. At 194″ long (4.92 meters), it’s not small – think Volvo XC90 or Jeep Grand Cherokee-sized. Visually, it’s reminiscent of the hot-selling Ford Bronco off-roader at the front, with some Mazda-esque side sculpting and a metallic-colored vertical element that features a clever “energy stack” lighting system that can give NIUTRON drivers a quick visual indicator of approximately how much “juice” is left in the NV’s batteries (below).
It’s a clever feature, and the overall design of the NIUTRON NV looks well-finished and well-executed – almost as if these guys know what they’re doing.
The technical specs that were revealed are minimal, but they’re highly suggestive nonetheless. For example, the NIUTRON NV will be built on what’s being called the “Gemini” platform, and be available as both a “pure” battery electric vehicle and an EREV (a plug-in hybrid that wants to avoid being called a PHEV). Battery capacity and range aren’t given, but “Gemini” just happens to be the name of the dual-chemistry battery pack that Our Next Energy (ONE) used in that 752 mile, battery-swapped Tesla we covered a while back.
NIUTRON projects 0-60 mph sprints in the sub-six second range (0-62 mph, or 100 km/h, will take 5.9 seconds) for either the BEV or
PHEV EREV versions of the NV, but doesn’t seem to have commented, officially, on range.
That said, the batteries do not seem small – but I can’t make them look like the Gemini battery back shown on ONE company website, no matter how hard I squint. Check it out for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments.
The company has plans to begin production this March at its Changzhou factory, which is still under construction as I type this, with the first deliveries due for September.
NIUTRON isn’t going by the typical startup playbook that includes big specs, bigger promises, and itty-bitty prices. By that standard, it’s actually playing things pretty conservatively, which leads this writer to wonder what their “killer app” is going to be at launch. Will it be massive range? A low price? Advanced autonomy? Time will tell.
Source | Images: NIUTRON.
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