NIO to Near Double Battery Swap Capability

Chinese BEV maker NIO is ramping up its domestic battery swap infrastructure with the pledge to build an extra 1,000 stations by the end of the year.

The move will nearly double the battery swap capacity for the automaker to a total of 2,300 stations, reports Reuters. Founder and chairman William Li said this week said NIO will build 400 battery-swapping stations along highways and 600 in urban areas with a focus on the country’s third- and fourth-tier cities and counties.

The move marks an expansion of its plan in December of adding 400 such stations this year. Li said more of them are needed to improve user experience after his trips to northeast China and lower-tier cities in Zhejiang. Battery swapping allows drivers to replace depleted packs quickly with fully charged ones, rather than plugging the vehicle into a charging point.

Swapping could help reduce the growing strains placed on power grids as potentially millions of BEV drivers hook up. However, industry experts point out that it can only work in a mass market way take if automotive batteries become standardized along with the vehicle platforms used by automakers. The other huge hurdle for the technology is the simply massive capital outlay needed by a manufacturer in buying and storing large quantities of expensive units in secure locations.

NIO is among the just few BEV makers that are gambling on battery swap technology as one of the major power solutions for electric cars. Rival Tesla had previously dismissed battery swapping as “riddled with problems and not suitable for widescale use”.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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