On January 28th, Didi and CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited) jointly announced the official establishment of a joint venture for battery swapping. They plan to enter the ride-hailing scene and provide battery swapping services for numerous new energy vehicles. In addition to establishing the joint venture for battery swapping, CATL also formed a strategic cooperation intention with Didi’s subsidiary Orange Energy, aiming to promote cooperation in broader areas of new energy such as integrated storage and charging.
According to CATL, the public transportation market has the characteristics of a large user base, high frequency of power supplementation, and strong requirements for timeliness. It is one of the most valuable application scenarios for battery swapping services. With the establishment of the joint venture company for battery swapping, both parties will closely cooperate to rapidly expand the deployment of battery swapping stations, promote battery swapping vehicle models, improve operational efficiency in the public power supplementation market, and drive green transformation in transportation.
This is not the first time that CATL has laid out its battery swapping sector.
Since 2019, CATL has successively reached cooperation agreements on battery swapping with companies such as Hellobike, Ant Financial, and NIO. In January 2022, CATL’s wholly-owned subsidiary, CAES, launched the battery swapping service brand EVOGO, providing a comprehensive solution for battery swapping consisting of battery modules, fast-swapping stations, and an app. With this move, CATL officially entered the field of battery swapping. Subsequently, in the first quarter of 2023, CATL announced that “Choco-SEB (swapping electric block which looks like a bar of chocolate)” battery modules had achieved mass production.
At present, car companies that are involved in the electric vehicle industry mainly serve their own brand users. However, the ride-hailing market has a wide variety of vehicle models, and there are differences in specifications, parameters, and interfaces of battery packs for different models. It is difficult to establish a unified standard for battery swapping, so it is still in the development stage.
As a pioneer in the domestic layout of battery swapping networks, NIO proposes the idea of sharing its battery swapping technology with more car manufacturers, thereby increasing the utilization rate of battery swapping stations and popularizing electric vehicles with swappable batteries.
Since November 2023, NIO has successively announced strategic cooperation agreements with Changan Automobile, Geely Holdings, Jianghuai Automobile, and Chery Automobile to develop a battery swapping network. The cooperation covers various areas such as battery swapping standards, technology, service network construction, vehicle development for battery swapping models, battery asset management and operation. The circle of partners in the battery swapping industry continues to expand.
CATL has chosen a different path: to make their own produced batteries compatible with as many car models as possible, making them a “standardized component.” According to CATL, the “Choco-SEB” uses their latest CTP technology, with a weight energy density exceeding 160Wh/kg and a volume energy density exceeding 325Wh/L. A single battery can provide approximately 200 kilometers of range and can be adapted to 80% of electric vehicle models already on the market globally, as well as those that will be launched in the next three years.
Multilateral cooperation not only helps integrate resource advantages but also facilitates the rapid formation of economies of scale to seize industry opportunities. As more participants join, supplementary tracks may be added to the current pattern within the industry; at that time, companies that have positioned themselves early and become rule-makers will undoubtedly enjoy more initiative than latecomers.