Editor’s note: We covered the story below briefly last week. However, you may have noticed that a lot has been going on outside of cleantech that has been distracting people from their normal news consumption. So, with the support of NIO*, we are returning to this news below, which we do find quite interesting in an auto market in which every other company is ignoring this opportunity.
By Steve Hanley
Since it began making and selling electric cars in China, NIO has made battery swapping part of its business model. This surprised some people who previously saw battery swapping elsewhere fail, and many thought that NIO’s battery swapping business would be promptly shut down. That was not the case. Today, NIO has 158 automated battery exchange stations located along major highways and in major cities throughout the country.
Exchanging a battery means a driver who is running low on electrons can have a fully charged battery installed and continue on with a journey in about 6 minutes. That’s not even enough time to go to the bathroom and get a snack or a coffee. To date, NIO has completed nearly 1.2 million battery exchanges.
But there’s something else having a sophisticated battery exchange system can do. It allows drivers to select batteries with different capacities to fit their specific needs. NIO has just introduced a new 100 kWh battery. For existing NIO customers, this means they can upgrade to a larger battery without having to trade in their existing car for a new one. NIO drivers can choose to have the latest battery with the most advanced technology added at an affordable price.
New 100 kWh Battery
Until now, customers had a choice of a 70 kWh battery or an 84 kWh battery. Now they can upgrade to a 100 kWh for a one-time fee of $8,774, or pay for it in monthly installments of $133. They also have the option of paying a yearly fee of $1,207. When installed in the EC6, the company’s most efficient model, range on a single charge is 382 miles NEDC.
The NIO battery exchange program can work for drivers in other ways, as well. Let’s say a driver needs extra range for a month or two. The larger battery can be installed, used as long as necessary, then a smaller, less expensive battery can be re-installed when the need for more range is over. No other manufacturer offers its customers such flexibility.
NIO also offers customers the option of purchasing a new car without a battery, then leasing the battery they prefer. For instance, they can buy a car for $19,365 less than the list price with the new 100 kWh battery and add the battery on a subscription basis for $224 a month. If they prefer the 70 kWh battery, the monthly subscription cost is just $148.
State Of The Art Technology
A customer who upgrades to the new 100 kWh battery is getting much more than additional range. Its patented cell-to-pack design results in a 37% higher energy density than the company’s 70 kWh battery. It also features better thermal runaway management, plus a highly integrated design that streamlines the manufacturing by 40% and improves space utilization by 20%. Its thermal management system improves performance and extends the lifetime of the battery. A cloud-based bi-directional battery management system allows smart adjustments based on actual driving and weather conditions to improve the battery’s performance under all circumstances. The new battery has been awarded more than 300 patents for its novel, cutting edge technology.
The battery-as-a-service model has made NIO highly competitive in the premium sector of the electric car market and allowed it to set new monthly and quarterly sales records over the past 6 months. Creative thinking and flexible battery options are a big part of that sales success.
All photos provided by NIO.
*This article was supported by NIO.