This new station, deployed at Sinopec's Chaoying Station in Beijing, was unveiled together with Sinopec - NIO's new strategic partner in areas related to charging and swapping network development, as well as new materials, smart EV tech, Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS), vehicle purchasing, and recreational facility construction.
Sinopec Group is the largest oil and petrochemical product supplier and the second-largest oil and gas producer in China. Its engagement with NIO and plans to deploy 5,000 battery charging and swapping stations "over the next few years", tells us a lot where the world is going.
"The partnership between Sinopec and NIO is an important milestone for further developing China's smart EV industry, a concrete measure to help achieve peak carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality, a key step in developing global, green, and innovative transportation initiatives and innovations."
Power Swap Station 2.0
The second-generation battery swap stations are equipped with 14 battery slots - 13 battery packs and an empty slot, to pick up a discharged battery (or old/previous generation battery when upgrading).
According to NIO, they are capable of completing up to 312 battery swaps per day (24 hours), which would mean 4.6 minutes or close to 277 seconds per swap (including parking).
The parking inside the station is, by the way, fully autonomous once the driver confirms the battery swap by pushing a button.
"As a smart battery swap system enabled by software-defined cloud computing, NIO Power Swap Station 2.0 is the world's first mass-produced battery swap station that allows the vehicle to maneuver into the station automatically. Each NIO Power Swap Station 2.0 has 239 sensors and four collaborating cloud computing systems that maximize the application of visual recognition technologies.
Enabled by the technology, users can complete a self-service battery swap with only one click while staying in the car. The system is capable of completing up to 312 battery swaps per day, significantly improving swapping efficiency."
As we can see below, the entire operation takes just a few minutes. The station lifts the entire car a little bit, and swaps the discharged battery for a freshly charged one.
Time will tell whether the battery swap stations are the right way to go, at least to jump-start the EV sales.
For NIO, this system has also one specific non-technical advantage in China. All the models with battery swapping are eligible for full EV subsidy without a price cap, which normally would eliminate NIO from subsidies.
In recent months, we heard about multiple other brands that are also launching battery swap systems in China.