Nio Eve concept debuts at SXSW, packed with AI and driverless tech

Its look is pretty close to another self-driving EV we've seen in the past year.

You might not expect the SXSW festival to be the home of a concept vehicle debut, but the Nio Eve is there, preaching the gospel of electric autonomy to all the #Millennials.

Nio, the startup formerly known as NextEV, unveiled the Eve at SXSW last week. The Eve is only a concept, but it presages a model that Nio hopes to have on the road by 2020. As with many other concepts of late, it's autonomous, electric and filled with strange gadgetry -- although Nio declined to provide specifics on its electric drivetrain.

Even Faraday Future pointed out that the Eve and the FF 91 have some key features in common.


Eve positions itself a less of a car and more of a digital companion. It uses an artificial intelligence engine called Nomi to interact with occupants. Wide swaths of glass feature digital displays with augmented-reality technology, which can be used to display data for drivers not relying on the car's autonomous capabilities.

As with other concepts that place the focus on not driving, the Eve packs two wide sliding doors and an interior that's less of a cockpit and more of a living room. One rear seat can recline nearly flat, and folding tables will allow folks to get work done on the morning and evening commutes.

Of course, since this is a concept, most (if not all) of what you see is likely to change before Nio actually puts it into production. I dig the look, though -- with a duckbill-style front end and a silhouette that's closer to a crossover or hatchback, it reminds me of the Faraday Future FF 91 that debuted at CES earlier this year.

In fact, the similarities are close enough to where Nick Sampson, Faraday Future's head of R&D and engineering, tweeted out a link to an image comparing elements of the two cars:

I'd wager that such a design would have a hard time living up to federal crash standards, though, so I wouldn't necessarily expect Nio's car to hit the market looking just like the concept. But concepts are all about grabbing attention, and this one achieves its mission in that regard.

This isn't Nio's first car. Last year, it debuted the EP9, a 1,342-horsepower electric hypercar that hits 62 mph in 2.7 seconds and can reach a top speed of 194 mph. It recently completed the quickest autonomous lap of the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas, after also claiming the fastest production car lap record with a driver behind the wheel.

Update, 3:11 p.m. Eastern: Added the embedded tweet discussing similarities between the Nio Eve and Faraday Future FF 91.