Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio and Changan Automobile have agreed to jointly develop battery-swapping EVs, making the carmaker Nio’s first partner since it started working on swappable batteries five years ago.
The pair will also work together on standardizing batteries and Changan Auto’s first passenger car to use Nio’s battery-swapping station network is scheduled for launch in 2025, they said yesterday.
Battery swapping allows drivers to quickly change depleted batteries for fully charged ones, and Nio’s Battery as a Service model allows customers to subscribe to a service plan, thereby separating vehicle purchase from ownership of the battery. Nio has been creating a network of battery swap stations, and has over 2,100 globally.
Shanghai-based Nio is discussing battery-swapping partnerships with four or five carmakers, according to a speech founder William Li made to the company.
“Nio has accumulated rich experience in research and development, construction and operations of Power Swap stations, and is ready to open to the entire industry,” Li said.
Changan Auto Chairman Zhu Huarong said the partnership with Nio would not be limited to battery swapping. The pair will continue to strengthen their cooperation in other platforms and fundamental areas, including energy, charging and swapping, complete vehicles, and ecology, forming a positive ecosystem, he said.
Nio and Changan Auto set up a joint venture in 2018, which was renamed Avatr Technology in May 2021. Battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology was among the investors in the high-end smart electric vehicle brand.
Nio has more than 1,600 battery swapping patents, and has served more than 32 million users as of Nov. 20. It costs about CNY3 million (USD420,805) to build a single Power Swap station equipped with batteries, according to Nio co-founder and President Qin Lihong. Each station needs to complete over 50 swaps a day on average for eight years to break even, Qin pointed out.
In addition to Nio, Geely Auto, SAIC Motor, and CATL have also launched battery-swapping businesses.