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Is EV battery-swapping a solution to under-developed EV charging networks?

3 August, 2023

Is EV battery-swapping a solution to under-developed EV charging networks?

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The under-developed EV charging networks in many countries seem to be a big obstacle in the adoption of Electric Cars. Is battery-swapping the solution?

EV Battery-swapping is not a new thing

One of the first notable attempts at commercializing EV battery-swapping was made by the Israeli company Better Place, founded by Shai Agassi in 2007. Better Place aimed to establish a network of batteryswapping stations for electric cars, particularly the Renault Fluence Z.E. However, despite significant investment and efforts, the company unfortunately went bankrupt in 2013.

Is EV battery-swapping a solution to under-developed charging networks - The Renault Fluence Z.E

Is EV battery-swapping a solution to under-developed charging networks – The Renault Fluence Z.E

Then came Gogoro, a Taiwanese technology company that specialises in electric scooters and battery swapping infrastructure. The company was founded in 2011 by Horace Luke and Matt Taylor, both of whom have backgrounds in design and technology. Gogoro gained recognition for its innovative approach to urban transportation and its contributions to sustainable mobility solutions. They are primarily known for its electric scooters, which are designed for urban commuting. The scooters are powered by lithium-ion batteries and are known for their sleek design, smart features, and performance capabilities.

Similar to NIO’s battery swap technology for electric cars, Gogoro has developed an extensive network of battery swapping stations. These stations allow Gogoro scooter owners to quickly exchange depleted batteries for fully charged ones, reducing the downtime associated with charging. Riders can use their smartphone to locate nearby battery-swapping stations, monitor their scooter’s status and process payments for their battery-swap.

In addition to scooters, Gogoro has also developed an ecosystem around its battery swapping technology. The company has introduced a platform that allows other manufacturers to use its battery-swapping infrastructure, encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles in various forms beyond just scooters. s a result, they attracted significant investment and funding from various sources, including venture capital firms and strategic partners interested in the growth of sustainable transportation solutions. They are now expanding to international markets, including France, Germany and other European countries, and have established partnerships with various cities and governments to integrate its electric scooters and battery swapping stations into urban transportation systems.

Nio, the EV battery-swapping pioneers

NIO. is a Chinese multinational electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer that specializes in designing, developing and producing electric vehicles and related technologies. The company’s headquarters are in Shanghai, China and was founded in November 2014 by William Li (also known as Li Bin).

The company has quickly become a prominent player in the global EV market, and its focus on technological innovation, including electric drivetrains, battery technology, autonomous driving features and user interfaces, has quickly made it one of the biggest companies in the field.

They started with EVs, including electric SUVs and electric crossovers and quickly developed high-performance EVs that cater to a luxury market segment. Starting with its sedan ET7, NIO gained attention for its advanced technology and features such as autonomous driving capabilities, an innovative digital cockpit, and a premium interior design. This specific model, when equipped with the 150 kWh battery, has a range of over 1,000 km (621 miles). NIO were also one of the founding teams of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, which is an international electric car racing series. The company has been involved in the championship since its inception, contributing to the development of electric vehicle technology and promoting sustainable mobility.

With all this expansion in EV applications, they faced the same problem all companies face: the lack of adequate charging facilities and infrastructure for the batteries they produce for all their electric vehicles.

The ingenious solution of EV battery-swapping stations

To cope with what is frequently referred to as “range anxiety” and lengthy charging times, NIO developed a technology that involves the quick and convenient exchange of depleted EV batteries for fully charged ones at designated battery swap stations.

The process is really simple: when a NIO electric vehicle approaches a battery swap station, the depleted battery is automatically removed from the vehicle and replaced with a fully charged battery. This process is typically completed in a matter of minutes, which is significantly faster than recharging a battery through conventional charging methods.

At the time of writing, Nio now have more than 1,200 battery-swapping stations In China and they are planning to add anoto 4,000 of them in operation by 2025 (of which 1,000 will be outside China). Their subscription-based service is called “Battery as a Service” (BaaS). It allows their customers to purchase electric vehicles without the battery. Then, they pay a monthly fee for the use of the battery and to have access to battery-swapping stations as needed. This model has already proven to be very successful as it has increased the sales of EVs due to the lower upfront cost of purchasing the EV.

Battery-swapping technology eliminates the need for drivers to wait for their EVs to charge, making it a particularly attractive option for those on long journeys or in a hurry. This helps address one of the primary concerns of EV owners: the time it takes to charge their vehicles. Instead of waiting for a depleted battery to recharge, drivers can quickly swap it for a fully charged one and continue their journey, making long-distance travel more feasible. This can be especially beneficial in areas where charging infrastructure might be limited or non-existent. NIO’s battery-swapping technology also allows the company to monitor the health and performance of batteries more closely. If a battery is no longer functioning optimally, it can be replaced with a new one.

The significant benefits of EV battery-swapping technology for all types of eletric vehicles

Battery-swapping technology provides numerous substantial advantages for Electric Vehicles. First and foremost, it effectively tackles a significant challenge in EV adoption: the fear of running out of charge while driving. By facilitating rapid and efficient battery exchanges at dedicated stations, drivers can experience extended travel distances without enduring lengthy charging periods. This innovation brings EVs closer in terms of refueling convenience to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. Moreover, the potential cost reduction in EV ownership becomes a possibility through the elimination of the need for costly individual battery replacements. The swapping stations ensure that vehicles are consistently outfitted with the latest and most efficient battery technology, thereby extending the lifespan of EVs and minimizing their environmental footprint by optimizing battery usage. Additionally, battery swapping can play a pivotal role in supporting sectors like ride-hailing and fleet management, which depend on minimizing vehicle downtime for seamless business operations. Overall, this technology holds the promise of expediting EV adoption, alleviating range-related apprehensions and enriching the overall feasibility and affordability of electric transportation.