No more plugging in and waiting for your EV to charge; just walk into a swap station and replace the car’s battery!by Sidd Dhimaan, on LISTEN 04:10
Range anxiety is one of the biggest reasons why people are skeptical to switch to EVs. The skepticism will most likely die down when two criteria are fulfilled – the day EVs take the same time as refueling an internal combustion-engined car and offer a similar range between recharges, and when you can find a charging station just as easily you find a gas station today. While the latter is not that big a problem in developed countries, the first one still is.
While top EV makers like Tesla are working towards hitting that sweet spot, Chinese manufacturer Nio has already come up with a solution – battery swap tech. It has been a roaring success for the automaker as it recently announced that its customers in China completed 4 million battery swaps! Is this the future?
Nio’s Battery Swapping Tech Will Solve EV Charging Issues
In case you’re still confused about what a battery swap is, it means you can replace a discharged battery with a fresh one at a swap station like the one Nio is building. You don’t have to plug in your car and wait for it to recuperate.
Called the BaaS – Battery as a Service – Nio says this whole task typically takes less than five minutes.
Nio announced on Twitter that it has 504 swap stations already. The company had planned to have 500 by the end of 2021, so it is already ahead of its target.
*supposed to be “by the end of 2021” in the tweet.
Nio is, in fact, going even stronger now as it plans to have 4,000 swap stations by 2025. This includes around 3,000 in China and 1,000 outside the country.
You Can Choose Higher Capacity Batteries While Swapping
This battery subscription plan isn’t limited to the battery pack option you chose when you bought your car. Say, for instance, you picked up a Nio car with a 70 kWh battery pack. This doesn’t mean you can swap it only with a fresh 70 kWh battery. You can even plonk in a 100 kWh battery if you’re traveling long-distance. To contain your initial costs, you can opt for a top trim with the smallest battery pack if you intend to use the car for urban commute more than outstation trips. When you do take the less-often outstation trips, you can always swap for a bigger battery pack.
At a time when EVmakers are struggling to strike a perfect balance in terms of product offering, Nio’s BaaS comes as a blessing. Not to mention, this is offered on all the Nio products.
Considering how companies are trying hard to extract maximum range, this seems like a perfect workaround. Tesla broke the EPA-rated 400-mile barrier for the Model S last year, and Lucid thrashed it with a 520-mile EPA rating for the Air last month. Instead of being stuck with one battery, you would be better off with a subscription plan like Nio’s that allows you to swap batteries at will.
With over 500 swapping stations already and four million swaps since 2018 (the first swap station opened on May 20, 2018, in Nanshan High Tech Industrial Park, Shenzhen), it is crystal clear that the model is a hit. Nio is also ready to offer the swapping system to other manufacturers if they’re willing to join.
The company even noted that by 2025, 90-percent of its users will be living less than three kms (1.9 miles) away from a battery swap station. If this model is adopted globally, it will solve the range anxiety issue to a large extent. You won’t even have to rely on range extenders in most conditions. So far, it seems to be a viable option. But, with the way the technology is moving, the charging times will also be on par with refueling at a gas station.
If you were to choose one of these options, which one would it be – plugging into a charging station or swapping the battery? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.