NIO EVE concept previews EV firm's autonomous future

NextEV announces it will sell autonomous cars under its NIO brand in the US by 2020 and reveals a new concept car

NextEV’s global electric car brand NIO has announced it plans to sell self-driving vehicles in the United States by 2020, while revealing a new concept car it says is a showcase of the company’s vision for future autonomous motoring.

Called the EVE, it’s the second car from the Chinese EV start-up, following on from the 1,341bhp all-electric EP9 hypercar revealed last November. However, the EVE concept focuses on luxury and autonomous functions over headline grabbing speed.

In terms of looks, the EVE is a long, rakish hatchback featuring a huge windscreen and glass panoramic roof, thin LED headlights and taillights plus no conventional A or B pillar – the door is a large, forward sliding rhombus shaped panel. Extremely short front and rear overhangs hint at the car’s lengthy wheelbase and spacious cabin.

• Autonomous cars: everything you need to know

Inside, the EVE features a six-seat lounge style interior. In the main seating area, the rear two lounger-style seats face two individual pews. A folding table can pop out and serve two of the four seats. Up front two more seats are found behind the large panoramic windscreen.

While the car is primarily intended to showcase future autonomous motoring it does feature pedals and a steering wheel, so a human can drive the EVE. As such, the windscreen is a hub of augmented reality tech, displaying driver information, while the dashboard has been replaced by a widescreen display set far forward. 

Alongside autonomous driving tech, the EVE goes heavy on artificial intelligence. At the heart of the vehicle is Nomi, described as a "digital companion", Nomi AI has a physical presence in the cabin in the form of two black pucks – one at the front and one at the rear. It powers the augmented reality technology in the windscreen, and also learns about occupants and drivers to provide more personalised journeys.

NIO to launch first mass market car in 2017

NIO has said nothing about the electric powertrain it envisions powering the EVE, and it’s unclear how much of its design and technology will transfer over to the car planned to launch in the United States in just three years.

What do you think of the NIO EVE concept? Let us know in the comments below...

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