While driving on California’s 880 freeway near Tesla’s Gigafactory, reader Fernando happened to see an unusual SUV with an unfamiliar badge, so he took a few pictures. It turns out that SUV is actually Chinese startup company NIO’s electric SUV, the ES8. We’ve seen the concept version of the SUV before, and the production version is supposed to be released mid-December. I guess we just got to see it sooner.

Sales of the NIO ES8 are set to start in China only next year. It’s not clear why this one was in California, though testing is a possibility, even if it is pretty late in the game for that. Perhaps they’re planning a U.S.-based reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month?

The ES8 is a full-sized, three-row SUV with front and rear motors for all-wheel drive. It’ll likely compete with the Tesla Model X, and while it doesn’t have the world-of-tomorrow styling or dramatic Falcon doors of the Tesla, it’s a handsome-looking vehicle, and the more conventional design may be appealing to many buyers.

It’s worth mentioning that NIO also has the record for the both the fastest electric car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife and the fastest road car, both set by their EP9 electric supercar. That and the billion dollars worth of capital they just raised make them worthy of everyone’s attention.

Advertisement

Friday, November 10, 2:25 pm: First, a correction—it’s not by Tesla’s Gigafactory, just their non-giga factory. Also, I spoke to a NIO rep who told me there’s a few ES8s in the U.S. for testing, but no reveal in the States is planned.