Electric Carmaker Nio Pushes New-Model Battery Swap Stations

nio battery swap electric vehicle

Electric carmaker Nio plans to build 1,000 more battery swap stations this year using a new design that makes swapping faster

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio on Tuesday launched operations of a new generation of battery swap stations, saying it plans to build 1,000 of the new, faster stations this year.

Nio’s Power Swap Station 3.0 design can store 21 battery packs at a time and can swap 408 battery packs a day, 30 percent more than the previous model, in part because of technology that automatically navigates the car into the right position.

The new design lowers swap time to three minutes and reduces the service cost per swap, Nio said.

The company is one of only a few to push the idea of swapping batteries, rather than solely recharging them, which Nio also offers.

nio battery swap electric vehicle
Nio’s Battery Swap Station. Image credit: Nio

Range anxiety

The build-out of a network of battery swap stations is intended to ease EV drivers’ range anxiety and to enable them to get back on the road quickly when a recharge is needed.

Tesla’s Supercharger recharging stations allow a vehicle to charge to a range of 200 miles in about 15 minutes, but less speedy methods can take significantly longer.

But the battery-swap approach requires enormous capital investment into swap stations and is limited to cars made by a single company, since battery designs are not standardised.

Shanghai-based Nio already operates about 1,300 swap stations in China and said it plans to operate more than 4,000 of the stations by the end of 2025, incuding about 1,000 outside China.

Nio has said it plans to launch in the UK this year operates 10 battery-swap stations in Europe, a figure it plans to raise to 120 by the end of the year.

Image credit: Nio
Image credit: Nio

UK launch

The company said in January it was looking to roll out swap stations in the UK as well and was scouting possible sites.

Nio’s “battery-as-a-service” option allows drivers to take a price cut of up to 20 percent on a new vehicle in exchange for paying a monthly fee for batteries and service.

“We hope to largely expand our service and network and bring better user experience to car owners,” said Shen Fei, vice president of Nio Power, the company’s power-systems unit. “Nio, as a pioneer of the battery-swap model, welcomes other carmakers to share the technology and network.”

Competitor Tesla has said it considers battery swapping to be “riddled with problems and not suitable for widescale use”.