Interchangeable batteries have the majority of the car industry against them, but one company is succeeding in promoting them in China with a solution that is as fast as it is effective. It is about NIO and its battery exchange stations. The problem is that these batteries need a different standard and an entire infrastructure so that users can change them. An investment that seemed crazy, but NIO is ready to build more than 4,000 by 2025.
While recharging an electric car can take more than an hour, changing the battery needs less than 5 minutes. A substantial difference in time that has led to companies such as NIO or Aulton New Energy already having more than 1,400 stations in China. A growth promoted by the Chinese administration itself, very active in promoting projects related to the electric car. According to a report by Bloomberg, some 26,000 stations are expected to be built by 2025 as new brands jump on the bandwagon.
NIO Power Swap Station 2.0 is expanding rapidly
In early 2021, NIO introduced the second generation of its Power Swap Station. These are battery exchange stations in the form of a car wash. The idea is that the user leaves the car inside the small construction and leaves after a few minutes with the new battery.
These stations are only compatible with NIO vehicles and are equipped with up to 14 battery slots. The operation is completely automatic and it is capable of performing up to 312 battery exchanges per day. If we do a quick calculation, it comes out to one change for every 4.6 minutes.
With a single click, users can leave the car in the washing tunnel and after a few minutes they have their car renewed. NIO initially built about 170 in China. At the end of 2021 it already reached 500. In Beijing alone, there are about 265 battery exchange stationstaking into account the different brands.
NIO has differentiated itself from other electric car manufacturers by its commitment to “batteries as a service”. In other words, instead of seeing batteries as a hardware component, they see them as part of their business strategy. NIO sells cars without batteries, at a cost 70% lower than normal. In return they charge them about 230 dollars a month and the driver can exchange the battery for a new one six times a month.
The price difference is enormous and it is up to each user to decide if it pays off, not only because of the price, but also because of the ease of recharging the vehicle.
Building a battery exchange station has an estimated cost of between 210,000 and 580,000 euros. At the moment most batteries are not used enough and the company can offer them to different users without problems, but with the passage of time it will be necessary to analyze to what extent swappable batteries are durable enough enough to withstand this use.
NIO has recently expanded into Europe, with the construction of its first station in Norway alongside the arrival of the NIO ES8. His goal is to have about 1,000 stations outside of China by 2025. By the end of this year, the company hopes to reach 20 stations in Norway and expand to markets such as Germany.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism