The Chinese car manufacturer NIO has just announced that its 5-minute rapid “charging” system for electric cars is arriving in Germany after a first experience in Norway. NIO’s idea is to install stations in which the empty battery of electric cars is simply exchanged for a full battery. This makes recharging almost as convenient and simple as filling the fuel tank.
Of course, the system is currently only compatible with the manufacturer’s vehicles. But NIO has already deployed its technology on a large scale in China. More than 917 NIO battery exchange stations have been built near the country’s expressways. More than 2 million battery exchanges have thus been carried out since the installation of the first stations. An operation that takes less than 5 minutes.
NIO prepares for the arrival of its electric cars by installing its battery exchange stations
NIO is therefore now seeking to export its technology internationally. In May 2022, the manufacturer announced the construction of its first station in Europe, located in Norway. And we learn today that the first German station has just been delivered. NIO has great international ambitions. The firm would like to have some 4,000 battery exchange stations by 2025.
However, the European market has a key place in this strategy. NIO has in fact installed a factory in Hungary which will produce at least 1,000 of these stations for the continent and other markets by 2025. The Hungarian factory occupies an area of some 10,000 square meters and has already started production at the beginning of the month.
In addition to manufacturing, this center will provide R&D for solutions implemented in Europe, as well as after-sales service for stations and staff training. NIO currently sells relatively few cars in Europe. The manufacturer has only launched its ES8 in Norway so far. A 6 or 7-seater SUV with a range of 500 km, and a 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, available from €49,000.
But we should soon see other models arrive. NIO should notably launch its ET5 in the spring of 2023 on the Old Continent. Concretely, the battery exchange requires parking the vehicle in a machine that automatically removes the empty battery and replaces it with a new one. In addition to saving time (we are talking about a 100% recharged battery and not 80%, for example as current car owners must do to spend less time at the charging station), the system de facto eliminates the battery life issue.
Indeed, if you constantly exchange your battery for a new accumulator, you benefit from a battery that is always at the top of its performance throughout the life of the vehicle. Which is a major comparative advantage over the competition.