Even on high-speed charges, it can take more than half an hour to fully charge an electric car’s capacious battery, so automakers continue to look for alternative solutions to this problem. One of the most obvious is the replacement of a discharged battery with a charged one in automatic installations. Despite the technical complexity of the implementation, the Chinese automaker NIO proved the feasibility of such an option, having carried out more than a million replacements in the NIO Power branded service.
Interestingly, NIO spent the first 500 thousand substitutions on May 25, 2020, that is, it took a little more than four months to double the result (the first million was recorded on October 5). The most active user has managed to change the battery in his electric car more than 500 times. This result is not surprising, however, as this lucky guy received a lifetime free battery replacement as one of the first buyers of NIO electric vehicles.
Note that on August 20, 2020, the automaker introduced the Battery as a Service (BaaS) service, which separates the ownership of an electric vehicle and the ownership of batteries for it. As a result, the owner of NIO ES8, ES6 and EC6 electric vehicles may not purchase a battery, but rent it on a monthly basis. This option allows you not only to save money at the purchase stage, but also to avoid problems with the natural aging of batteries, as well as to choose the capacity that is needed at a particular moment (70 kWh, 84 kWh, 100 kWh).
NIO Power Swap stations were announced on December 16, 2017, and the first commercial station in Nanshan High Tech Industrial Park (Shenzhen, China) was opened on May 20, 2018. By the end of 2018, 26 stations were commissioned, and at the moment their number has grown to 155 units. In 2021, NIO plans to introduce a second generation battery replacement station with greater user friendliness and faster operating speeds.