It appears that one of China’s most prolific pure electric vehicle makers will be following Tesla on the vision-only route. As per recent reports, NIO’s sub-brand, codenamed Alps, will be using a LiDAR-less camera-only approach for its smart driving system. The pure vision system is reportedly implemented to keep Alps’ costs low.
Citing multiple sources reportedly familiar with the matter, Chinese media outlet HiEV noted that Alps’ smart driving system would be based on a single Nvidia Orin X chip and no LiDAR. This is quite different from NIO”s current lineup, which are based on the company’s NT 2.0 platform. The NT 2.0 platform comes standard with a roof-mounted LiDAR sensor and an Adam supercomputer that’s powered by four Orin chips.
NIO’s main brand competes in the premium segment, while Alps is expected to compete in the mainstream market. The NIO sub-brand’s first model is expected to be an SUV that should be competitive with the Tesla Model Y. The Tesla Model Y is one of China’s best-selling battery electric cars, and it also accounts for the lion’s share of the electric vehicle maker’s sales globally.
Alps’ expected Model Y competitor is expected to start between RMB 200,000 ($28,099) and RMB 250,000 ($35,124), which would make it more affordable than Tesla’s all-electric crossover SUV, as noted in a CNEV Post report. For context, the base Giga Shanghai-made Model Y Rear Wheel Drive (RWD), the vehicle’s most affordable variant, currently starts at RMB 258,900 ($36,374).
Considering that the Model Y is already a profitable vehicle, Alps’ efforts to keep its costs as low as possible are understandable. The NIO sub-brand would be entering a saturated market, after all, so any cost efficiencies would likely be welcomed by the company.
Alps’ vehicles will reportedly be based on NIO’s NT 3.0 platform, which features an in-house developed 5 nm process-based Shenji NX9031 autonomous driving chip. NIO has released a vehicle that is based on its NT 3.0 platform, the ET9, though it is a premium EV that is still equipped with a roof-mounted LiDAR sensor.
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