Battery swapping technology has been around for electric vehicles for more than 20 years. However, carmakers have largely ignored this technology in favor of larger and more efficient lithium-ion battery packs with faster charging speeds.
Yet Chinese EV maker Nio is now reviving battery swap technology. Nio has already established around 2,000 Nio Power battery swap stations in China and plans to expand further. Additionally, Nio has introduced 27 similar stations in Europe, where their vehicles are gaining popularity.
Battery swap systems offer a quicker and more convenient way to achieve a 100% state of charge (SOC) compared to the public charging network. InsideEVs reports that a Nio battery swap can provide customers with a fully charged battery in as little as three minutes.
This is up to 10 times faster than charging at a DC fast charging station. A typical stop at a fast charging station takes around 30 minutes. And even then, the battery’s SOC is only around 80%.
From to 🔋 in less than 5 minutes!
On this House of NIO episode, I travelled to Shanghai to meet NIO's Vice President of Power Dr. Fei Shen to understand how NIO is developing the Battery Swap technology. pic.twitter.com/YVPKQhloUf
— Afonso (@AfonsoEV_) November 20, 2023
Nio’s Third Generation Power Swap Station, which began operating in April 2023, is capable of conducting 408 swaps per day. Importantly, the Nio EV battery swap service is only available to owners who choose to lease their batteries.
Battery swap stations, such as those utilized by Nio, are not expected to replace public EV chargers in the near future due to their high costs. It costs around 10 times more to build a battery swap station than an EV charging station.
However, battery swap stations could serve as an additional option for EV owners, potentially reducing the strain on the public charging network.
According to TechRadar, battery swapping is also gaining popularity with smaller electric vehicles, particularly electric motorcycles. Kymco, a leading electric motorcycle manufacturer, recently introduced its Ionex plug-and-play EV battery ecosystem. This technology competes with similar technologies from Gogoro and Honda.
Since these battery packs are smaller than those in electric cars, the battery swap stations are typically compact and resemble vending machines. Owners can easily disconnect their battery, place it in the appropriate area, and receive a fully charged replacement.
Image Source: CarNewsChina