GAC Group's new energy vehicle (NEV) division GAC Aion has built its first battery swap station in Guangzhou, China, making it the latest player in this field after pioneer NIO, Geely and battery giant CATL.
Interestingly, GAC Aion's station features both battery swap and supercharging capabilities, with the company claiming it's equipped with the first system in China to automate EV battery replenishment.
Replacing a vehicle's battery takes as little as 2.5 minutes and supports a replacement life of up to 8,000 cycles, according to the company.
GAC Aion plans to make its home city of Guangzhou the first "city of super-charging" in the world, with plans to build 220 such stations this year and 1,000 by 2025 in the 18-million port city located north of Hong Kong.
By then, the automaker estimates that stations won't be farther away from each other than 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), with GAC Aion estimating that the network will reduce the time needed for users to find a station to within 5 minutes.
Later on, GAC Aion plans to expand swap stations in China and "other overseas cities," but the automaker did not provide specifics.
For now, GAC Aion has no model compatible with battery swapping, but its entire EV lineup will become battery-swappable from 2023 based on the new GEP 3.0 platform.
Until then, the 220 new stations expected to open in Guangzhou this year will only use their fast-charging capability. The charging point at the swapping station has a theoretical peak charging power of 480 kW, with peak voltages up to 1000V and peak currents up to 600A.
GAC Aion says that 5 minutes of fast-charging produce an additional range of 200 kilometers (124 miles).
Each battery swap and supercharging station will feature the Aion Robot Charger automatic charging system, which will provide an all-in-one solution for automatic charging and battery replacement in future driverless vehicles, according to GAC Aion.
China has two safety standards for battery swapping, depending on whether the battery is bolt-on or snap-on. Cars with snap-on batteries must allow at least 5,000 battery changes, while those with bolt-on batteries must allow a minimum of 1,500 changes.