While it may have seemed that option was long retired in the electric vehicle world, Chinese startup NIO hasn’t abandoned the idea of swapping batteries in electric vehicles instead of — or complementary to — fast charging.
The young company is currently building a sprawling network of battery swap stations throughout China.
NIO Battery Swap In China
NIO, founded in 2014, already has its legs in Shanghai, Beijing, San Jose, Munich, London, and other locations. The company just announced its battery swap network in China on the G4 Expressway, which runs 2,285 km (roughly 683 miles). This strategic highway connects the north of the country to the south and NIO is implementing 18 battery swap stations along it. According to the company, this network connects the major cities of Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, and Guangzhou, as well as several other large cities.
NIO, which recently went public, plans to expand its battery swap station network to other major highways soon in order to link to China’s central eastern region next year.
Nio Battery Swap Backed By Active Government
Love or have a difficult relationship with the country, China wastes no time nor resources when it comes to moving ahead on cleantech. High-speed trains are now a daily event at even higher speeds than in Japan and Europe. Steve Hanley here on CleanTechnica last year wrote that the country is looking at launching 4,000 km/h trains!
Shenzhen is also a good example of cleantech leadership, switching all of its dirty diesel buses to electricity by the end of 2017. The city is also leading on electric trucks and electric taxis, not to mention electric vehicle (EV) production.
It would take western countries decades of discussions and stumbles to push through the continuous barrage of petroleum and automotive lobbies and achieve the successes China is already implementing. Perhaps it might be time to take what works elsewhere instead of debating and delaying endlessly? The oil companies are blocking progress on the national level in the US, via their political subsidiary, but perhaps some US cities could follow Shenzhen’s lead.
NIO isn’t wasting any time promoting its swapping station network to its new ES8 Founders Edition owners, and those who put down a deposit on the ES8 Standard Edition. Both will enjoy 12 free battery swaps every year at any service station across China. This sounds somewhat reminiscent of Tesla’s early “Supercharger access for life” for a modicum $2,000 fee. Looking back, that launched an era of long-distance EV travel possibilities that hundreds of thousands of Tesla drivers can already benefit from today.
NIO’s co-founder and president, Lihong Qin, was quoted saying: “With the support of our partners, we’ve dedicated ourselves to deploying our battery swap network to offer users a worry-free driving experience on China’s highways. The deployment of our battery swap network on the G4 expressway is the beginning of providing a charging experience beyond refueling.”
NIO — A Leading EV Startup
NIO’s mission is “to shape a joyful lifestyle by offering premium smart electric vehicles and providing the best user experience.” It has focused on building a new means of mobility based on what users want. In the meantime, the company is very active in EV racing with its Formula E Team. It unveiled its EP9 in 2016 and set the lap record for an EV at the Nürburgring. It also set a new world speed record for an autonomous vehicle (AV) at the Circuit of the Americas the following year. In other words, it’s got some serious tech and performance chops to back up its press approach.
Congratulations to another EV startup for acting today — and for several years leading up to today. We’d love to see a live demonstration of a NIO swap battery station in the new ES8, so we’ll let you know if we land such a showing.