The new king of the Nürburgring is electric: Chinese NIO EP9 demolishes Lamborghini’s outright lap record
Having the Nürburgring lap record is about as big as bragging rights get in the car industry.
Until now, exotic supercar maker Lamborghini had the honour of being able to say it made the fastest production car to lap the 13-mile circuit, with its V10-powered Huracan Performante clocking a 6 minutes and 54 seconds time in October last year.
But that has just been shattered by an unlikely candidate – a Chinese-made, £1.2million hypercar called the NIO EP9 that’s entirely electric.
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King of the ring: The NIO EP9 (pictured) set a lap time of 6 minutes and 45 seconds to blitz previous lap records held at the Nürburgring
In October 2016, the EP9 blitzed the previous electric-car lap record at the Nürburgring held by Toyota’s EV P002 prototype racer with a time of 7 minutes and 5 seconds.
But despite the achievement, NIO claimed its 1,342bhp vehicle was restricted by ‘inclement weather’ during the two-lap time trial at the infamous circuit dubbed the ‘Green Hell’ for its unforgiving undulations through a western German forest.
Eager to pit the 194mph zero-emissions car against the clock in more desirable conditions, the carmaker returned for a second attempt at the outright lap record on May 12.
This time around, the EP9 recorded a lap time of 6 minutes 45 seconds – that’s 19 seconds quicker than the previous attempt and 7 seconds under the production-vehicle best set by the 602bhp Lamborghini.
Achieving that almighty lap time does take up quite a bit of the juice, though.
Around 80 per cent of the charge is sapped by the sub-7-second lap and it takes 45 minutes for the lithium batteries to replenish to complete another circulation.
The Chinese hypercar recorded a lap time that was 7 seconds quicker than the Lamborghini Huracan Performante – previously the fastest production model to lap the circuit NIO had previously broken the electric-car lap record at the infamous track in October last year, but said it was impeded by inclement weather Just 16 EP9s are being built – six for investors in the start-up carmaker and 10 for customers costing around £1.2million each
Those who can’t wait three quarters of an hour can have a second set of batteries on stand-by.
Eject the depleted battery packs from the side of the vehicle and you can replace them with fully-charged substitutes in just eight minutes, NIO claims.
As well as pummelling the production-car record, the EP9 was also two seconds quicker than the lap record for a non-road-legal vehicle.
That was previously held by the Pagani Zonda R – a £1.5million, 739bhp, 6.0-litre V12, that’s so fast that it can’t be driven on public routes.
But that won’t be the case with the road-going EP9, with NIO announcing in April that it will produce another 10 models on top of the six that will be built for individuals who have invested in the brand.
All will be made to order and cost $1.48million.
It also boasts the ‘autonomous lap record’ at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, setting an unmanned lap time of 2 minutes 40 seconds in February this year.
The Chinese car manufacturer said it hopes to sell an autonomous vehicle called the Eve in the US in 2020 and will also have a seven-seat all-electric SUV called the ES8 on sale in China by the end of 2017.
Price: $1,48million (£1.2million)