In mid-2020, I completed the driver’s license exam for motor vehicles in Beijing, marking the end of the days of repeated training, studying, and test-taking, while also bringing up another question: what kind of car should I choose?
In Beijing, fuel-powered cars are basically ruled out.
So the question is reduced to: what kind of new energy vehicle should I choose?
Comfort: Specifically, there are several indicators:
Quietness: I am sensitive to noise, such as tire noise, which is still audible in the Tesla Model 3 I previously test-drove. Therefore, I want to buy a car with good noise reduction.
Music/Speakers: I have a collection of songs on QQ Music, and I am also a QQ Music VIP member, so it must natively support QQ Music. Also, the sound system should be full and balanced, making full use of the quiet environment inside the car to enjoy melodious music and songs.
Seating: I am over 1.8 meters tall, so I need to choose a car with relatively spacious interior space, so that I can stretch my legs and not bump my head on the roof. In addition, the seats should be wide and comfortable, with adjustable space, and preferably with heating functions.
Air conditioning/Air purification: It should preferably have a fully automatic air conditioning system that can set the target temperature and automatically select cooling and heating based on ambient temperature. Since the air quality in Beijing is poor in winter, the car should also have an air purification device.
Head-up Display: It must be present, as looking down at the instrument panel is inconvenient and unsafe for a new driver like me.
Automatic Assistance Driving: It must be present. An electric car without automatic driving assistance has no soul.
After test-driving multiple vehicle models, I made the following observations:
After comparing test-drives, I chose the NIO ES6.
Other Points Worth Mentioning
About the Ideal ONE
I had already scheduled a test drive, but I learned the night before that the Ideal ONE is a range-extender electric vehicle that cannot use the new energy vehicle quota in Beijing, so it was ruled out immediately.
About Electric Car Safety
There are many news reports about fires involving new energy vehicles. Except for Tesla Model 3, the other four models in the previous section have relatively low sales, so the fact that there were fewer reports of fires involving these three models does not necessarily mean they are safer.
I consulted industry data and found that the 2020 Electric Vehicle Safety Report released by the China EV 100 Forum showed that the annual combustion accident rate in China’s automobile industry is 0.0316%, while the combustion accident rate for new energy vehicles is 0.0098%.#### On Choosing Directions
I have to say that choosing a direction is a very personal preference. New energy vehicles are still a new thing, and the selection of specific brands and models is diverse and subjective.
If your direction is comfort, I hope this article can provide some help; if your car selection is not based on comfort or comfort is not a priority, then this article may not be as helpful.
On Tesla’s Disqualification
After the Model 3 release event in 2016, I paid the deposit shortly thereafter but cancelled it before buying a NIO.
In this four-year period, my personal thoughts have undergone enormous changes.
Four years ago, I was an internationalist and liked to use imported brands and products. But now, I will give priority to domestic brands in roughly the same quality.
I know that compared to foreign branded products, domestic products may have some shortcomings, but I can also see the massive progress of domestic products in recent years, and I am willing to vote with my feet to support domestic products.
But this idea only represents myself, neither will I force anyone to change their own ideas, nor will I make chicken-blooded calls or hype. I believe good products speak for themselves.
From Ordering to Delivery
After the selection, I placed an order in September 2020.
Afterward, I researched various guides and adopted a set of non-contact purchasing preparation work, including:
Remote express signing of vehicle purchase contract and accompanying documents;
Network purchase of insurance (I mainly drive for 996 commuting within the city, and do not need NIO’s various worry-free services);
Network notarization + remote express purchase car loan contract (NIO subsidy brings a loan interest rate of up to an annualized 2.99%, bonus);
Network handling of vehicle purchase tax exemption certificate.
At the same time, I prepared a checklist for the inspection of the delivery center, and completed the delivery + inspection + license plate registration within a day just before National Day.
On that day, over 90% of the vehicles waiting for license plates at the motor vehicle inspection site were new energy vehicles.
Of the new energy vehicles, 80% were various Tesla Model 3s, as well as 3 NIOs, 3 Xpeng P7s, 1 Li ONE, and 1 WM Motor car.## Driving on the Road
Less than a week after I picked up my car, I was involved in a rear-end collision.
The cause was that I misjudged the distance and width of my ES6 when I was maneuvering around other vehicles. The car is almost two meters wide, which is considerably wider than the training cars that I used to practice with. As a result, I rear-ended another vehicle and was deemed fully responsible for the accident.
During the subsequent process, I also had my first experience reporting the accident, making a claim, and arranging for maintenance.
According to other experienced drivers, reporting accidents and making claims is much easier nowadays. All I needed to do was report online and upload relevant pictures, unlike in the past where it was necessary to coordinate schedules and complete time-consuming offline reporting and loss adjustment procedures.
Although the repair costs were fully covered by insurance, the total bill was still nearly 9,000 yuan. Apart from the paintwork and labor costs, the main expense was replacing a headlamp assembly worth 6,000 yuan.
Afterwards, I mentioned this incident to my NIO consultant, who said that there are currently relatively few self-operated after-sales service centers in NIO. Instead, the company relies mainly on third-party authorized service centers.
However, third-party service centers and NIO do not always have the same goals (with an emphasis on replacement rather than repairing). Therefore, NIO will gradually establish its own self-operated after-sales service centers.
Like the battery swapping service, the self-operated service system is also a heavy asset investment. It remains to be seen how NIO will establish a coherent business model in this area.
At present, my residential community does not yet have the conditions to install charging piles. Therefore, I primarily rely on battery swapping to replenish the vehicle’s energy.
Although I was lucky enough to be one of the first car owners of NIO who enjoyed a lifetime of free battery swaps, now the company still offers six free battery swaps per month for car owners who forfeit their first-priority rights. This should be sufficient for many people.
NIO’s battery swapping model is a notable feature that sets it apart from other new electric vehicle companies. Shortly after receiving my car, I completed my first “NIO squat.”
However, the Liushui Bridge Swapping Station I went to has a BAIC Swapping Station nearby.
Compared to NIO, the significant advantage of the BAIC Swapping Station is that the vehicle does not need to be lifted during battery swaps, so the driver does not need to leave the car, which is especially important in the northern winter.
On January 9, 2021, NIO unveiled its second-generation battery swapping station at NIO Day 2020.
Compared with the first-generation battery swap station, the main improvement of the second-generation station is to increase the number of battery packs from 5 to 13 at each station, and the driver can now perform automatic battery swap with just one click while in the car, without the need to get out of the car, thereby improving the speed of battery swap.
After the arrival of winter in Beijing, the biggest problem for NIO car owners without home charging stations is that many NIO cars are waiting for battery swap at the swap station, resulting in wait times of up to several tens of minutes or even hours.
According to NIO advisors, there will be a total of 50 battery swap stations in Beijing by the end of 2021, and the mass construction of second-generation battery swap stations will begin after NIO Day 2020, with a focus on construction and usage in the second half of the year.
However, based on the current progress of location selection, there are still many empty spots in the battery swap station in some hot spots such as Zhongguancun and Wangjing, and many car owners still cannot enjoy the convenience of electric district housing or electric district offices. We hope to see new breakthroughs in the coming year.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a demand for QQ Music.
When activating the car, NIO also provides customers with an additional 3-month QQ Music membership, which is a good thing.
However, for me, a deep user of QQ Music, just giving me the membership is not enough.
Because membership qualification can be easily bought with money, but listening to music involves a series of experiences.
Especially in the following aspects:
Playback control: For example, the playback progress of the music played before locking the car should be recorded locally before the car goes to sleep so that the user can continue playing from the last breakpoint if necessary when waking up. This is how QQ Music client does it.
But now the logic on the NIO car system only remembers the currently playing music, but not the position. The next time you play it, you can only start from the beginning of that music.
Playlist: There are three types of playlists in QQ Music: playlists created by others, playlists created by others and also collected by me, and playlists I created myself.
Previously, the QQ Music on NIO’s car system could not display the playlists I created myself.
Fortunately, this flaw has been fixed in the software update in late December 2020.
Album: Similar to playlists, there are two types of albums on QQ Music: albums that can be viewed and those that can be viewed and also collected by me. Currently, QQ Music on the NIO car system still cannot display the albums I have collected.Login Status: Previously, when playing QQ music on the car, I had to scan the code to log in once every month. The situation was quite strange because I didn’t stare at the screen while playing music in the car. Instead, I pressed the play button on the steering wheel during the driving start-up phase.
If I encounter a prompt that requires me to re-scan the code to log in, I can’t stop and scan the code, but I have to close the randomly playing music as soon as possible, keep wondering in my mind, and continue to observe the road conditions.
Encountering this problem once a month is already very uncomfortable.
Actually, this is a common problem in OAuth login. After client authentication, the token issued by the server contains a certain validity period. When the token expires, if the client requests the server again, an error will be returned.
However, OAuth services generally support using a valid token to request a new token from the server, so that the client can actively update it when the token is about to expire and ensure service continuity.
Fortunately, this problem has been fixed in the software upgrade at the end of December 2020, although it took a bit too long.
There is a wireless charging board on the center console of the NIO ES6, which is a good design but has serious compatibility issues with my Huawei P40 Pro.
The performance is intermittent while wireless charging. This result is that it is almost impossible to charge and it will cause certain irritability and continuous distraction while driving. In the end, I had to turn off the wireless charging function.
But the nightmare did not end here, because there is also an NFC coil under the wireless charging base, which will trigger my phone’s NFC simulation to read the card, but the NFC simulation card on my phone is not the type that NIO can recognize, such as Beijing transportation card, access card, electronic identity card, Huawei Card, etc. So my phone kept reporting errors.
As I use the access card multiple times on weekdays, I can’t turn off this feature. So every day I have to endure the compatibility issues of the NIO ES6.
After multiple feedbacks to NIO, they replied that they could arrange for engineers to jointly debug the problem with Huawei, but they did not have a direct way to contact Huawei.
I also went to a friend who works at Huawei to feedback the problem, and Huawei quickly had an engineer contact me to provide the following information:
Similar problems are known, and Huawei and NIO have already started joint debugging. It is possible that NIO’s internal information has not been shared, and I need to contact Huawei to inquire about it.
The Huawei device being debugged is Mate 30 Pro. Huawei does not know that P40 Pro also has compatibility issues and needs my assistance in collecting error logs.Follow-up, Huawei engineers have contacted me multiple times and provided progress updates and potential solutions. During this time, NIO has never proactively updated me on any progress.
The issue is still being investigated and current information cannot determine whether it is caused by NIO, Huawei, or both of their products.
However, NIO, who claims to be a user-oriented company, may need to learn from Huawei’s customer service, since the NIO ES6 is much more expensive than the Huawei P40 Pro.
When I purchased the car, I did not choose to add the NOMI Mate 2.0.
It wasn’t until much later that I learned that the voice assistant for NOMI Mate is called NOMI, while the voice assistant for cars without NOMI Mate is called Halo.
It was the first time I learned that, besides Microsoft during a certain period of time, there was still a company maintaining two smart voice assistants that overlap in functionality, but have different names.
Previously, there were some areas that needed improvement in the voice assistant.
For example, when I pressed the voice button on the steering wheel, the Halo voice prompt would say “What do you want to do?” and then I would say “Go to Tiananmen Square”. The final recognition result was “What do you want to do to go to Tiananmen Square?”. You can imagine what the final response was. However, with the recent upgrades of a few NIO OS versions, the accuracy of voice recognition is now high enough.
Sometimes I can even see that my voice recognition has been dynamically corrected due to my unclear pronunciation when wearing a mask during the recognition process, and there are basically no recognition errors now.
The NIO ES6 has a very convenient feature: easy access for the driver – before getting off, the driver’s seat automatically retracts and returns when the vehicle starts.
This increases the distance between the seat and the steering wheel, making getting on and off more convenient.
This feature is very user-friendly for tall people, but it can be more humane.
For example, when setting the access position, if the seat moves too far backwards, a prompt will appear indicating that the position cannot be saved.
But this prompt is not very user-friendly. Either it is in the access position setting state and actively limits me when I move the seat backwards, not allowing me to move beyond the boundary where the position cannot be saved, or it prompts me when I am about to reach the limit.
Currently, it only prompts when the position is too far away, but how far is “too far”?
The NIO car navigation system comes equipped with Baidu Maps as the default navigation system. But in just over three months, it has given me three incorrect directions:– Yansha Outlet -> Beijing East Station;
- NIO authorized service center -> Unnamed road in nearby village;
- Yuyuantan Park -> Closed parking lot of Song Qingling International Art Center;
This question is quite tricky, because even the Baidu Map on the phone wouldn’t make so many mistakes.
Some NIO employees have told me privately that they also use the Amap on their phones for driving normally.
However, if using the phone map, then the head-up display that comes with the car would be wasted, and I have already become accustomed to the head-up display. Looking at the phone for navigation while driving would actually be dangerous.
Through communication in car enthusiasts groups, I have also seen an unofficial statement:
Baidu may prioritize updating geographical information for its own mobile maps, while updates for car navigation maps may not be as timely.
However, as the default map, NIO has an obligation to urge existing suppliers to provide timely and effective geographical information. If it’s ineffective, it should promptly switch to suppliers who can provide timely, effective geographical information.
Instead of treating users’ driving experience, and even driving safety, as a joke and turning a blind eye to such serious issues.
NIO App is also a frequently used application for car owners, and different people can find different pleasures or uses in it.
However, there is also a lot of room for improvement in this application, and I have already encountered many issues so far:
Many interfaces are not adapted for Huawei P40 Pro, which also applies to Mate 40 Pro. Below are three photos I took, showing the discovery page, content details page, and friend conversation list page.
It can be seen that the common problem is: The gap between the top toolbar of the interface and the system status bar is too small, and some controls of the toolbar are located in the screen’s upper left corner punching area, such as the search box at the top of the discovery page, the return button at the top of the content details page, the tag switching area at the top of the friend conversation list page, and even some controls of the toolbar overlap with the elements of the status bar, such as the sharing button at the top of the content details page, which overlaps with the time of the system status bar.
NIO App’s map supplier is Tencent Map, and NIO’s car navigation map supplier is Baidu Map.
As a result, the NIO App can only send locations to the car, but cannot send navigation routes, such as charging maps, to the car.
The granularity of vehicle control on the NIO App is quite different from that on the car.
The car’s navigation can provide 1-3 alternative routes, while the NIO App’s charging map always provides a single route, which should provide multiple alternative routes.
Feedback TrackingThe following is the translated markdown text in English, keeping the HTML tags and only making corrections and improvements:
Lastly, what I want to say is that most of the issues mentioned above have been reported by me in the exclusive service group for NIO App. The service representatives only mechanically respond that the issues will be conveyed to the engineering team, but there has been no other feedback beyond that.
Of course, I understand that the NIO software engineering team is currently facing numerous tasks and issues, and the problems I encountered may be individual or common.
Therefore, the priority of these problems may not be very high, as the main development focus should be on the core points of each version.
But for users, there are two scenarios: one is being able to see maintenance service orders with clear timelines, processing stages, detailed descriptions, and service evaluations; the other is seeing their feedback in the service group almost ignored or lost in silence.
If NIO can establish a tracking process for these feedbacks, will users have a stronger sense of participation?
Will users be more supportive of NIO’s vision of establishing a user enterprise?
Will users confidently recommend NIO’s products to their friends and family?
In the electric vehicle field, we are still in the early stage of development, and every market player is striving to improve and advance rapidly.
NIO must realize that if we cannot properly serve over 60,000 car owners, what will happen when we deliver 160,000, 600,000, or 1,000,000 cars in the future?
Love deeply, hold the responsibility. I hope NIO can face these issues seriously, take practical actions, and consistently strive to build a real defensive barrier.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.