When the battery in your EV needs a charge, going to a charging station is the logical choice. Right? How else would you get anywhere without a quick charge? Don’t be dumb. But that is so 2019. Forget all of that quick charge nonsense for EVs, this is the future of battery charging. And it has nothing to do with battery charging.
There is another alternative to charging a battery. It is called replacing the battery. While you wait. That’s what Chinese electric carmaker NIO has done. It has 136 automated battery swap stations scattered around China. So far, it has completed 500,000 battery swaps. This could be the future of battery charging, not charging at all.
Get the picture? These replacement stations are strategically located along China’s busiest highways and byways. Once you see your range is closing in on zero, you look for an NIO replacement station. You blast in, wait a couple of minutes while technicians replace your depleted battery with a fully charged one, and haul ass out.
We don’t need no stinkin’ charge times!
Charge times? We don’t need no stinkin’ charge times! The whole replacement boogaloo takes three minutes. So if you’re comparing quick charge times among competing EVs, remember that NIO’s charge time is three minutes.
And that’s not for an 80% fast charge, that is for a full charge. Why didn’t the brain trust at Motor Biscuit think of this? We could have all been millionaires by now. Can this be the future of battery charging in the US?
Tesla tried this replacement battery system before
Who is the technological leader of EVs in the US? That would be Tesla. And it seems that it tested just such a system. About 200 Tesla owners in Coalinga, California, were invited to try the idea out.
“We’ve invited all the Model S owners in the area to try it out, and of the first round of 200 invitations, only four or five people were interested,” Elon Musk told Jalopnik. “Clearly it’s not popular.” Of course, what Tesla ended up doing was to install a nationwide charging network.
Besides NIO owners getting a fully charged battery in three minutes, they can also opt for battery upgrades. So a longer-range battery not available when they purchased their EV can be swapped for their earlier inferior battery.
The Chinese government is subsidizing the battery replacement future
And this whole system and process are currently free. The Chinese government is subsidizing the whole shebang. There is a reason why this works so well
Most housing in large Chinese metropolises doesn’t have access to a quick charge network. If they do, it is crammed with others needing a charge so wait times can be very long. Public charging is the only way they can charge their EVs in a convenient, reasonable way. This battery swap system really makes EV ownership more convenient and important for these folks.
Would a battery replacement infrastructure fic the Jaguar I-Pace problems?
But it seems like it would be an answer for slow-selling EVs like the Jaguar I-Pace. Charging stations for them are limited and Jaguar just lowered prices to help move the I-Pace EVs piling up on dealership lots. If it had a replacement system for the I-Pace at the assorted dealerships around the country, would it increase sales? We think it would.
The old saying, “There are two ways to skin a cat,” definitely applies to EV battery charging. Time is money and time is the only commodity you can’t get back. NIO has used that realization to its advantage. But, we think it would work in the US too.