You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

This car hit 160 mph — and left its driver behind

A sleek, futuristic sports car toured Circuit of the Americas last week, reaching a top speed of 160 miles per hour.

Nothing unusual about that, right?

Not until you consider: The car had no driver.

The NIO EP9 set a world speed record, according to motorsports outlets, for autonomous electric cars, completing a lap of the 3.4-mile road circuit in southeast Travis Country in 2 minutes, 40.33 seconds. The same electric supercar, developed by NIO U.S. headquarters in Silicon Valley, also broke the production car lap record with a driver behind the wheel, covering the circuit in 2:11.30 and touching 170 mph.

So, yes, a skilled driver can still go faster than a car with no driver at all.

NIO, which released a video of the driverless car’s COTA lap, will hold a U.S. launch event for the $1 million car during South By Southwest at the Coppertank Event Center from March 10-12. The company hopes to drastically drop the price once the cars are mass-produced.

“At NIO, we are all about raising the bar for the entire automotive industry, and breaking records with the NIO EP9 demonstrates our expertise in the field,” Padmasree Warrior, CEO of NIO, said in a statement. “We achieved this remarkable result in an incredibly short time.

“Our goal is to be the best next-generation car company for autonomous vehicles. We look forward to sharing our vision in Austin at SXSW.”

Warrior, a native of India who’s called “Queen of the Electric Car Biz” by Fortune magazine, will deliver a keynote address at SXSW on March 11 at the JW Marriott.

NIO, created by the Chinese electric car startup NextEV, produced the vehicle in a mere four months.

The EP9’s efforts at COTA eclipsed previous marks for electric cars at Nurburgring in Germany and Circuit Paul Ricard in France, according to various motorsports publications. During its record-setting laps, the EP9 was the only car on the COTA track.

“We’re honored to be a part of NIO’s lap record. It is pretty amazing to consider,” said Katja Heim, COTA’s COO. “We all know autonomous vehicles are part of the future, and this is further proof of progress.”

For comparison’s sake, the Austin track record is 1 minute, 39.347 seconds for a Formula One car — that’s an average of 124.2 mph —1:47.412 for a WEC sports car and 2:02.135 in MotoGP.

The EP9 accelerates from zero to 124 mph in 7.1 seconds, according to NIO, and has an interchangeable battery system. It is designed to be fully charged in 45 minutes and have a range of 265 miles.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for NFC teams 

LAST SEASON: 49ers tied franchise record for losses, leading to organizational overhaul. Longtime GM Trent Baalke was fired, along with first-year coach Chip Kelly, and replaced by first-time GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Team struggled just about everywhere in 2016. Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick failed to provide strong quarterback play...
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs
Distracting or dirty, NHL agitators can provide spark in playoffs

Late in the second period of a scoreless Game 3 of his first-round playoff series at Madison Square Garden, Montreal Canadiens forward Steve Ott went to work. With New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello hovering around Montreal goaltender Carey Price, Ott stepped in front of Zuccarello and without warning began tousling his long locks. Zuccarello...
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball
The NFL draft's fastest rising QB chose football over baseball

At some point in the NFL draft, probably in Thursday night's first round, a team will formalize an improbable outcome and select Patrick Mahomes II. The improbability would not stem from Mahomes reaching the highest level of football. He posted astonishing statistics at Texas Tech, got all As in high school, stands a sturdy 6-foot-3 and possesses enough...
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 
NFL draft capsules for AFC teams 

LAST SEASON: Following 0-14 start under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Browns barely avoided becoming only second team to lose all 16 games. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam vowed to be patient with new front office and coaching staff and were mostly true to word as team underwent minimal offseason changes. Cleveland's biggest issue remains as it has been...
NHL projections: Capitals over Penguins, Rangers over Senators
NHL projections: Capitals over Penguins, Rangers over Senators

This year's Stanley Cup playoffs have already been heart-stopping and sleep-depriving. Eighteen of the 42 first-round playoff games went to overtime this year, a league record, with two of those 18 games requiring a second OT period to determine the winner. And two of the series were upsets by wild-card teams: the Nashville Predators swept the West's...
More Stories