While NIO may be gunning for the Tesla Model 2 or Honda’s affordable EV plans with a new car brand, its current performance electric sedans like the ET5 and ET7 are rather premium vehicles with the price tag to match. It’s precisely in the combined mid-range and luxury car class that NIO ET7 became the first Chinese electric car to win Europe’s most prestigious vehicle award, the German Auto Bild magazine’s Golden Steering Wheel.

NIO brought the ET7 luxury sedan, its smaller ET5 sibling, and the EL7 SUV to the European market not long ago, launching a subscription model that nets drivers an ET7 at €1,199 (US$1,193) a month. That includes full insurance, the servicing costs, as well as the tire replacements. The 650 HP sedan accelerates from 0-62 mph in 3.8 seconds and its base 75 kWh battery is good for 277 miles on a charge in the WLTP test (about 250 on the EPA estimate).

According to Tom Drechsler, the Chief Editor of Auto Bild, the NIO ET7 “surprised – and convinced – virtually everyone on the Golden Steering Wheel jury.” The nominees are suggested by the public, then a select jury of engineers, race drivers, and assorted automotive specialists pronounced its NIO ET7 verdict to be:

Good seats, fine haptics, top-notch overall performance and NOMI is amazing. It can both glide effortlessly and also deliver high performance thanks to the unexpectedly wide range of driving modes available.

Besides a network of chargers, NIO is also building battery swap stations across Europe, just like it does in China, in order to get rid of range anxiety once and for all as a battery change happens in minutes.

Besides the first Chinese electric car to feature in Auto Bild’s 2022 awards, there was another EV win, this time in the best 2022 innovation category. It was took by the solar-powered Lightyear 0 that is launching in November and offers the sun-charging abilities of the solar panels across its body to extend its 60 kWh battery range to the whopping 620 miles on a charge, “based on a 50 km workday commute in Amsterdam during summer.”

The vehicle will start shipping to those who pre-ordered this month, but, at the €250,000 (~US$260,947) Lightyear 0 price, there will be only 946 cars built and delivered to early adopters, as Lightyear plans to use the proceeds to develop more affordable solar-powered electric car models.

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