When we talk about saving the planet, any company that plans to do that by selling more cars and consuming more resources sounds hypocritical. Yes, that’s the way things are, but why not propose to make them differently? Nio took a step toward that when it announced its 100 kWh battery pack and a “flexible battery upgrade plan.”
Making a long story short, what the Chinese company offers is the possibility of getting more range from your EV without having to sell it. Considering Nio’s battery packs are swappable, it is only a matter of replacing the old one with what fits your needs best. And you do not necessarily have to buy it.
Nio already offered what it calls BaaS, which stands for "battery as a service." That means you can buy a Nio EV without batteries and pay to use them as a subscription. The genius stroke about this is that you are not stuck with a single sort of battery.
You could swap your battery for a bigger one if you had to travel and use the smallest one available for urban driving, for example. That makes a lot of sense if you do not travel that much.
In case you buy your Nio without the 70 kWh battery pack – the smallest one – you save RMB 70,000 ($10,590) right away and can pay RMB 980 ($148) a month to use it. Currently, Nio sells three models: ES6, EC6, and ES8.
The most affordable is the ES6, which starts at RMB 358,000 ($54,162) and goest up to RMB 468,000 ($70.804) without options. That's the same top price for the EC6 and where the ES8 starts. The difference is that the EC6 starts at RMB 368,000 ($55,675), and the ES8 has a top price of RMB 566,000 ($85,631).
The new 100 kWh battery pack seems to replace the 84 kWh option, which is not available anymore. The most range a Nio vehicle can get with it is 615 km (382 miles) under the NEDC cycle. That number is achieved by the EC6, the most aerodynamic vehicle the company sells.
In terms of pricing, the 100 kWh battery pack costs RMB 58,000 ($8,774). Customers who decide to buy their Nio without it will have an immediate saving of RMB 128,000 ($19,365) and will be able to “subscribe” to these batteries for RMB 1,480 ($224) per month.
The “flexible battery upgrade plan” allows owners of the 70 kWh battery pack to upgrade to the 100 kWh option for RMB 880 ($133) per month or RMB 7,980 ($1,207) per year. Pre-order either for buying new cars with these larger battery packs, for BaaS, or the upgrade plan open on November 7.
More range is not all the new battery pack offers. Nio said it also has CTP (cell-to-pack), which makes the batteries play a structural role on the pack and increases energy density by 37 percent. The new pack also features a thermal propagation prevention design, a manufacturing process that is 40 percent simpler, all-climate thermal management, and an “end-cloud bi-directional communication BMS.”
This last part deserves a deeper explanation. What Nio said is that the BMS (Battery Management System) receives and sends information to a cloud-based system that optimizes “battery’s performance under all conditions.” For the record, Hon Hai (Foxconn) promised to offer its MIH Open Platform the same thing.
With the battery swapping structure Nio offers, range anxiety is not really an issue for its customers. The company offers 158 battery swapping stations in China that get a fully charged battery pack in a Nio EV in six minutes, as Tom Moloughney already told you back in January.
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With such an infrastructure, it only makes sense to buy a battery pack if you have no intention ever to swap it. That can be convenient for customers who do not travel long distances or are not bothered by the time fast charging still takes.
As we mentioned, the fact that Nio cars can have battery upgrades without the need to sell the entire vehicle is quite an advantage compared to traditional manufacturers. Not only financially speaking, but also in what regards sustainability. Nio is not a Riversimple, but it is in a good way to eventually get there.