The third-generation battery swap station and 500kW ultra-fast chargers of Chinese new energy vehicle firm NIO will be deployed in March of this year. The firm also intends to build over 1,700 battery swap stations and over 20,000 power chargers in China.
The third-generation swap stations achieve more efficient vehicle-station coordination and can complete up to 408 swaps per day, a 30% increase compared with the second-generation version. 21 battery packs shorten the swap time by 20%.
Each third-generation station is equipped with two LiDARs and two NVIDIA DRIVE Orin X chips, achieving a total computing power of 508TOPS. They support an automatic summoning and swapping feature, whereby the station is able to communicate with the car and automatically navigates the car to complete the swap. By adopting HPC bidirectional high-power liquid cooling power supply module, the maximum efficiency of the swap station reaches 98%, and charging and discharging power is 62.5 kW.
With maximum current of 660A and maximum power of 500kW, it takes 20 minutes to charge 400V models and 12 minutes to charge 800V models from 10% to 80%.
In 2022, NIO built 538 new battery swap stations around the world, 346 of which are located on highways. A total of 13,384 charging piles have been built, making it the automobile brand with the largest number of charging piles in the Chinese market.
The most direct advantage of battery swapping is its high efficiency. The fuel tanks of traditional passenger cars are generally 50 liters, and it takes about three to five minutes to refuel. The current battery swap time of NIO is also about three to five minutes. According to another Chinese automaker, BAIC, its battery swap technology has ushered in version 4.0, which shortens the process to around one and a half minutes.
Battery swapping solves the problem of maintaining the value of new energy vehicles. The battery price of new energy vehicles accounts for about one-third of the whole vehicle. If the battery is integrated with the vehicle, the vehicle will be greatly devalued as the battery is worn out.
Many Chinese automotive and battery giants entered this market last year, among which battery firm CATL, automaker Geely and SAIC attracted the most attention. As early as mid-January last year, EVOGO, a battery swap brand released by CATL, launched a scheme suitable for passenger cars and logistics vehicles. Three months later, the first batch of four EVOGO battery swap stations was officially put into operation in Xiamen, Fujian Province.
In June last year, Geely-backed Ruilan Auto officially announced its entry into the blooming market. It is estimated that by 2025, Geely will build 5,000 battery swap stations. A subsidiary of SAIC planned to set up a joint venture with a total investment of 1.551 billion yuan ($225 million) to develop businesses in new energy vehicles, charging and battery swapping.