Nio launches NOP+ driver assist feature nationwide

Max McDee, 04 March 2024

Chinese luxury EV maker Nio claims to have one-upped Tesla and other Western rivals with a big announcement: the rollout of Nio's Navigate On Pilot Plus (NOP+), a driver assistance feature that now works on almost every Chinese road. On the face of it, it seems Chinese electric vehicles are really pulling ahead of the industry unless Nio’s announcement is more smoke and mirrors than the self-driving revolution.

Nio launches NOP+ driver assist feature nationwide

All the hype centers around NOP+, Nio’s advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technology. Similar to functions like Tesla's FSD or GM’s Super Cruise, it handles basic driving duties like acceleration, braking, and steering functions but the driver is required to supervise at all times – so not a full self-driving capability. Nio initially offered NOP+ only on highways, but now the company claims it works on nearly all roads nationwide in China.

Nio executive Harry Wong boasts that NOP+ in “Unlimited Mode” covers virtually all roads in the Chinese mainland and even territories like Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, though the latter poses a unique challenge as Nio vehicles are not sold there. Nonetheless, the company is already recruiting eager 'pioneer testers' to experience its latest feature.

Nio launches NOP+ driver assist feature nationwide

Industry insiders aren't entirely convinced. Analysts at Morgan Stanley, while noting that this demonstrates flexibility in Nio's algorithms, remain cautious. It's a bold claim considering the massive differences in traffic rules and driving habits globally. If true, it means Nio’s tech can adapt quickly to unfamiliar surroundings, potentially making it more advanced than many of its competitors.

So how does Nio's so-called "Unlimited Mode" work? The company claims it utilizes "group intelligence," crowdsourcing data from Nio vehicles on the road. The idea is that a large pool of real-world driving data lets the system rapidly expand its functionality. In a matter of months, the system's coverage has allegedly doubled to over 403,900 miles, though those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Nio launches NOP+ driver assist feature nationwide

While Nio's move is ambitious, it's not unique. Chinese competitor XPeng also offers its own version of nationwide assisted driving with its XNGP system. Whether either system offers a distinct advantage over features from Western automakers is hard to tell without testing the hardware in real-life conditions.

The biggest question is why such emphasis on assisted driving rather than fully autonomous technology? Perhaps Chinese developers recognize that true self-driving cars are far from reality, choosing to focus on incremental yet marketable improvements instead. Whatever the reason, Nio's announcement signals a continuing escalation in electric vehicle feature wars - great news for consumers, though the jury's still out on whether they actually deliver on the promise.


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