One of the persistent barriers preventing full-scale EV adoption is concern over recharge times, but battery swapping could solve this issue, allowing drivers to swap out batteries for fully charged ones in 10 minutes or less.
Technology analysts BloombergNEF published a short research excerpt this week highlighting the potential battery swapping presents for the electric vehicle industry.
Currently, when an electric vehicle battery begins to run low, the only option is to find the nearest charging point and take the time to recharge – a time dependent on the type of recharging technology available and the type of chargers in proximity.
For some, the easiest way to recharge is to return home and rely on an overnight charge provided by plugging into a household outlet. And while rapid chargers and curb side charging stations are beginning to become more common, battery swapping might be an answer, or one of the answers.
According to BNEF, there are now over 550 battery swapping stations in China, led by NIO and BAIC, two of the leading automakers in China in battery swapping technology.
NIO has installed nearly 180 battery swapping stations, and BAIC has set up over 220 stations with plans to add 100 more across China this year.
NIO in particular has made its name in recent months by doubling down on its Batter as a Service subscription options, which for around $AU198 per month allows owners of a NIO vehicle the option to swap a battery out instead of relying only on charging.
Earlier this year NIO announced the ET7 electric and autonomous sedan, boasting a 150kWh solid-state battery pack to be available from the fourth quarter of 2022 which is supposed to offer range in excess of 1,000-kilometres.
The ET7 would be one of several NIO vehicles able to make use of the company’s Battery as a Service subscription.
BNEF expects battery swapping to gain greater traction not in personal transport sectors, but with taxi, ride hailing, and short-haul trucking applications, all of which demand faster refuelling than private EV owners.
Moreover, batteries used in fleet vehicles are also easier to standardise, making battery swapping an even more attractive option.
As a stark contrast, battery swapping networks in China already dwarfs that of hydrogen refuelling networks, with only 648 hydrogen refuelling stations in operation globally at the end of 2020, only 96 of which were in China.
Of course, battery swapping is a long way behind traditional EV charging methods, with China installing 112,000 public EV charging connectors in December of 2020 alone.
But for fleet operations, and maybe in Battery as a Service subscription models, battery swapping may hold the key for helping to increase EV adoption in otherwise hard-to-electrify sectors.