The company offers a “battery-as-a-service” choice partly as a means to assist customers get monetary savings on the acquisition value of its luxurious automobiles. “One of many largest limitations to the acquisition of an EV is the fee,” says Joanne Yamani, Nio’s director of communications. “We’ve seen electrical automobiles vary wherever from $10,000 to $70,000 greater than your normal inside combustion engine automobile, and that’s just because the price of the battery is so costly.”
As an alternative of paying for the battery in the price of the automobile, prospects will pay for a month-to-month subscription to a service, roughly akin to the price of shopping for gasoline for an old school automotive. Every time somebody wants extra energy, they again the automotive into one of many company’s garages, and a machine routinely installs a freshly-charged battery. “Your depleted battery is popped out, and a refreshed, absolutely charged battery is popped in inside three minutes,” she says. “After which you’ll be able to simply drive off. You don’t have to fret about sitting round ready to your automotive to cost up.”
Whereas electrical automotive homeowners within the U.S. can typically plug right into a charger in a single day if they’ve a home of their very own, drivers in China usually tend to reside in residences that will not have chargers in a parking storage. And whereas quick chargers can prime off a battery pretty rapidly, a steadier cost over a number of hours is healthier for the battery. The swapping system is designed to be extra handy. Proper now, Nio has a community of 178 battery swapping stations positioned in and between main cities similar to Beijing and Shenzhen; by the top of the 12 months, it plans to have 500 stations. (The company additionally plans to launch its automobiles in Europe quickly, although it hasn’t introduced the way it will deal with battery swapping there.) If a buyer manages to expire of energy and get stranded, they’ll use an app to ask the company to ship a cellular charging unit to provide a fast cost.
The idea of battery swapping isn’t new. Higher Place, an Israel-based startup that raised practically $1 billion in funding and had opened a small community of charging stations in Israel by 2012, filed for chapter in 2013 after it did not make the mannequin successful. Tesla examined battery swapping and opened a station in 2013, however then deserted the concept to concentrate on constructing a community of superchargers. Nio argues that now the time is correct for the mannequin to succeed. With Higher Place, “It was form of an thought earlier than its time, as a result of not lots of people owned EVs at the moment,” Yamani says. Nonetheless, inside just a few years, electrical automobiles are more likely to be as low cost to purchase as automobiles that run on gasoline, so there could also be much less demand for a battery-less automotive primarily based on price. Charging can be more likely to turn out to be extra handy. Nio’s choice is fascinating, however don’t count on it to turn out to be as ubiquitous as gasoline stations: The system works solely with Nio automobiles, and since each different automaker works on their very own distinctive electrical automobiles, this sort of infrastructure wouldn’t work universally.