has produced a batch of the new ES6 and deliveries will begin on May 25. Deliveries of customized vehicles will begin in mid-June.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Nio (NYSE: NIO) today officially launched the new ES6 in China, potentially lifting a key factor that has held back its sales over the past few months.

The electric vehicle maker is allowing consumers to lock in orders for the new ES6 starting today, and those interested can make appointments to test drive the model today, with first deliveries set to begin tomorrow.

Like Nio's other models based on the latest NT 2.0 platform, the new ES6 features strong power and assisted driving hardware. As Nio's least expensive SUV, the new ES6 has competitive pricing.

Including the battery, the new ES6 with a 75-kWh standard range battery pack starts at RMB 368,000 ($52,220), and for the 100-kWh version, it starts at RMB 426,000.

If consumers choose to purchase the car using Nio's BaaS (battery as a service) program, then the new ES6 starts at RMB 298,000, with a monthly rental fee of RMB 980 for the 75-kWh pack and RMB 1,680 for the 100-kWh.

Notably, that price is at the low end of the price range in a questionnaire Nio sent to some Nio App users on May 11 to solicit pricing opinions for the new ES6.

Its previous action was more like an intentional expectation management move so that potential consumers would not be disappointed with the final pricing.

Many other local automakers have similar strategies, such as (OTCMKTS: BYDDY), which typically announces pre-sale prices for new models and then announces lower final prices.

The new ES6 is also less expensive than the first generation of the model based on the NT 1.0 platform, which was previously offered in three versions with starting prices of RMB 386,000, 426,000 and 496,000 respectively.

Nio has begun production of the new ES6 based on the designer's recommended configuration combinations, and deliveries will begin on May 25 for consumers who purchase these vehicles, a post on the Nio App today said.

Consumers who wish to customize the vehicles can lock in their orders in the Nio App, and deliveries for these vehicles will begin in mid-June.

The new ES6 can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds under half-load conditions, with a distance of 34.5 meters from 100 km/h to the brake.

The new ES6 has a range of 490 km with the 75-kWh standard range battery pack and 625 km with the 100-kWh pack.

Nio's 150-kWh semi-solid-state battery pack, which will be put into use in July, will give the new ES6 a range of 930 km, according to William Li, the company's founder, chairman and CEO.

Nio is scaling back the benefits it offers consumers, announcing on April 10 that from June 1, consumers who purchase the Nio ET7, EC7, ES7 and ET5 will no longer continue to receive free home chargers, and the free battery swap benefit will be adjusted to four per month.

Nio has been providing consumers with free home chargers and four free battery swaps per month for the past several years. If consumers choose to forgo the free home charger, they will receive 6 free battery swaps per month under its current policy.

For the new ES6 and the new ES8, these benefit changes will begin on August 1.

For Nio, the new ES6 is crucial, as it is the least expensive of Nio's SUVs and has been its main seller for the past several years.

Nio launched the first-generation ES6 in December 2018 and began delivering the model in China in June 2019.

In 2019, Nio delivered 20,565 vehicles, including 9,132 ES8s and 11,433 ES6s, with the ES6 contributing 55.59 percent, according to data monitored by CnEVPost.

In 2020, the company delivered 43,728 vehicles, including 10,861 ES8s, 27,945 ES6s and 4,922 EC6s, with a 63.9 percent contribution from the ES6.

In 2021, Nio delivered 91,429 vehicles, including 20,050 ES8s, 41,474 ES6s and 29,905 EC6s, with a 45.36 percent contribution from the ES6.

Available data for 2022 show that from January to August, 32,877 units of ES6 were delivered, contributing 46 percent of Nio's total deliveries of 71,556 units during this period.

Potential consumers' wait for the new ES6 over the past few months may have been a critical factor in dampening Nio's sales, causing its April deliveries to fall to 6,658 units.

In the first three weeks of the month, Nio vehicles registered just 3,700 insurance units in China, data monitored by CnEVPost shows.

($1 = RMB 7.0473)

New NIO ES6 launch: Live updates