Will there be takers?
Over the years I have covered EVs, I have seen several companies attempting to add value to EVs by using interchangeable batteries.
The idea is that if the charge takes longer than filling up with gasoline, we could just replace a battery with a fully charged one.
A startup called Better Place built its entire business model around it and went bankrupt.
Tesla rolled out its own battery swap technology in 2014, but it only built one battery swap station and quickly killed the project.
That’s why we were a little skeptical when NIO, a Chinese electric vehicle maker, launched its own battery swap program with its first electric vehicles in 2018.
But the automaker has defied the odds, and the program has been successful, as we previously reported when they made 500,000 battery swaps last year.
Today, NIO announced at its Power Day in Shanghai that it has now completed “over 2.9 million trades”, showing a strong rise over the past year as the The automaker’s customer fleet increases.
That’s with 301 NIO Power Swap stations deployed in China.
During its Power Day, NIO announced an extension of its battery exchange stations:
“To provide a better power service experience to its rapidly growing user base, NIO will further expand NIO Power’s charging and exchange network. This year, NIO raised its goal of having over 700 instead of 500 battery exchange stations installed by the end of the year. From 2022 to 2025, NIO is committed to installing 600 new battery exchange stations in China. By the end of 2025, NIO will have more than 4,000 NIO battery exchange stations around the world, of which approximately 1,000 are outside of China.
But what caught our attention in NIO’s announcement was the statement that the company is considering opening up its battery swap system to other automakers:
“Meanwhile, NIO announced the provision of the NIO Power and BaaS (Battery-as-a-Service) charging and swapping system for the industry to share its achievements with the automotive industry and intelligent electric vehicle users.
The automaker has not developed any current projects thanks to this new initiative.
It’s an interesting development, but I doubt they’ll find a taker.
The process of swapping batteries is so complex that for it to be compatible with another EV than a NIO EV, I’m assuming the entire battery, or at least the form factor (maybe not modules and cells), should also be designed by NIO.
If it wasn’t designed, it would at least have many limitations to be compatible.
I think this will bring a hiatus to many automakers looking to take advantage of NIO’s growing network of battery swap stations, but it’s not impossible that some will see enough value in it to take the plunge.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.
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