For NextEV, or NIO, as the startup is increasingly rebranding itself, the record-breaking megawatt-producing EP9 electric supercar is a halo model. For volume sales, the company is pitching its new EVE concept, which is planned to spawn a production version by 2020. This is clearly far from a production model, and so far, specifications are conspicuously absent.

The EVE, presented at SXSW, is designed to be an autonomous "digital companion," especially as it features an artificial intelligence engine known as NOMI. NOMI will be the car's "human interface," and comparisons to Total Recall's Johnnycab are inevitable. NOMI will help control the self-driving car, function as an entertainment DJ, and continuously personalize the vehicle the more it learns about its occupants.

NIO sees the EVE more as an autonomous cocoon, closer to something Kamakiriad-like instead of a 21st century penalty box stuck in a traffic jam. The door jambs and pillars are rethought in favor of what NIO calls "optimized door cuts." So-called active door glass will double as displays that will show the images and videos the digital companion will shuffle for the occupants' delight.

Now, if the bar-of-soap shape of the EVE reminds you of Faraday Future's FF91, you're not be the only one. FF's R&D senior vice president Nick Sampson took to Twitter to voice his surprise, claiming that the EVE is nothing more than an imitation of the FF91.
According to Sampson, the FF91's design was locked a year ago and the EVE's appearance is more likely to be a result of industrial espionage rather than outright innovation. He's not completely misguided, as the detailing down to the wheels seems to tread a familiar path. But, regarding both vehicles, it's up to the EVEntually (pardon the pun) finished production cars to show how close they will be in execution.

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