Automotive

Nio's auto stations have now swapped out 500,000 EV batteries

Nio's auto stations have now s...
The 500,000th battery swap took place at the Shanghai Auto Expo Park on May 25, 2020
The 500,000th battery swap took place at the Shanghai Auto Expo Park on May 25, 2020
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Nio's Power Swap stations have been installed in three major economic zones in China
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Nio's Power Swap stations have been installed in three major economic zones in China
Nio has 131 Power Swap battery switching stations in China, with the latest opening in Foshan on May 20, 2020
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Nio has 131 Power Swap battery switching stations in China, with the latest opening in Foshan on May 20, 2020
Automated battery swaps are reported to take around 3 minutes
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Automated battery swaps are reported to take around 3 minutes
The 500,000th battery swap took place at the Shanghai Auto Expo Park on May 25, 2020
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The 500,000th battery swap took place at the Shanghai Auto Expo Park on May 25, 2020
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We're no strangers to being able to remove a battery unit from an ebike for charging indoors, and even if you move up the electric vehicle ladder to an electric scooter, you may be lucky enough to be able to swap out a dead pack for a fresh one. But things get more complicated for electric cars. Chinese EV maker Nio has had swappable batteries at the heart of its design language for a while now, and has recently celebrated its 500,000th battery swap.

The convenience of being able to pull up to a "fuel station" when your car's battery pack is running low and have it swapped out, rather than wait around for a top up at the charger, is an appealing one. A company called Better Place set up a number of demonstration projects over a decade ago, and even launched commercially, but couldn't balance the books and went into liquidation in 2013.

Nio packed more than 500 patented technologies into its battery swap solution, the first of which opened at the Nanshan High Tech Industrial Park, Shenzhen, in 2018. The idea is that Nio EV drivers can pull up to one of the company's Power Swap stations and have the vehicle's battery pack automatically swapped out in just three minutes. The onboard electrical systems are also given a health check as part of the process.

Nio has 131 Power Swap battery switching stations in China, with the latest opening in Foshan on May 20, 2020
Nio has 131 Power Swap battery switching stations in China, with the latest opening in Foshan on May 20, 2020

More Power Swap stations have been installed since, and there are now 131 units in 58 cities across China, with the latest opening in Foshan just last month. But the 500,000th battery swap actually took place at the Shanghai Auto Expo Park on May 25.

Another advantage of such a service is that drivers could benefit from higher capacity or better performing battery technology as it comes along, potentially without having to purchase a new electric vehicle. But there's still some way to go before battery swap technology reaches mainstream usage for electric cars, but with three major Chinese economic zones already covered, Nio looks to be charging ahead with the service.

Source: Nio

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9 comments
Expanded Viewpoint
What is conspicuously absent from this article though, is what the heck happened to those 500K batteries that have been traded in? And how much carbon based fuels had to be burned to make 500K new batteries available? Oh, that's right, my bad! I forgot that those batteries just grow on trees all over the place, and the old ones get chewed up into mulch and compost to be placed around the trunk of the battery trees!! Perfect recycling, just like Nature does it!! Not.

Randy
DaveWesely
If automakers with established dealer networks would do this, it would be a game changer. BEVs would be cheaper because the fixed battery could be smaller. Then if the owner wanted more range, additional batteries could be purchased or rented from the dealers. Dealers would have a new revenue source to compensate for lost ICE service revenue. There are dealerships in every town with at least 10k of population so swapping batteries would not be a problem.
Username
Congratulations to NIO for doing it right.
genegough
Expanded, I guess they were charged and installed in a subsequent customer. Duhhhh
Captain Obvious
Expanded Viewpoint: Maybe you missed the part where they charge the batteries slowly for the next guy. They don't throw them away like AA alkalines. Charging slowly makes them last a long time vs. "fast" charge. 3 minute swap is way faster than even level 3 charge.
martinwinlow
@ Captain Obvious - 3 mins is also way faster than refuleing an ICEV.
Aross
Swap-able batteries is an idea my wife had when electric cars were first introduced. Depending on developing a standard where all auto makers use the same configuration, this could be an automated process where a car pulls into a service station, a robotic arm removes the discharged battery and installs a fresh battery. The amount charge would be based on the cost of the fully charged battery minus any residual charge left in the old battery, much like the cost of topping up a gas tank.
michael_dowling
Genegough: Comments like that reveal just how little people know about EVs. One Ford survey found 42% thought EVs needed gasoline to run! https://insideevs.com/features/371730/42-percent-americans-believe-evs-run-gas/
nick101
Having worked with a number of companies that have fleets of forklifts, sweepers, scissor-lifts and other such equipment that run on electricity, and share common batteries, I've been asking why cars can't be like that for years. If I post that question on a car review site, I'm invariably shot down by some know-it-all who claims that the (big) car companies would never agree to it. Maybe so, but most of the big car companies are standing on the edge of a big cliff anyway, high costs, massive overproduction, and plain silly strategies. Affordable electric cars are the shove that will send them off that cliff, and reusable batteries are the key.