Companies are tapping into the battery swap market

A second-generation Nio battery exchange station goes into operation in Taizhou, Jiangsu province. TANG DEHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Growth of the sector creating opportunities for the development of the new energy vehicle industry

With more cities issuing policies on the exchange of new energy vehicle batteries, the sector is expected to boom and better support the development of NEVs.

Earlier this month, southwest China’s Chongqing released its NEV battery swapping pilot plan, saying the city will set up more than 200 battery swapping stations and promote more than 10,000 NEVs capable of exchanging batteries by 2023.

The city is one of 11 cities selected by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to conduct a pilot program and accelerate the construction of battery swap infrastructure.

In addition to the pilot cities, Dongguan in Guangdong Province will establish 108,000 charging and exchange facilities by 2025, according to the city’s 14th five-year plan (2021-25) for NEV infrastructure released earlier. this month.

Sichuan Province’s electric vehicle action plan, released in April, encourages cities to explore battery swapping modes and promote the operation of battery swapping in buses, taxis and logistics vehicles.

Since 2020, NEV sales in China have grown rapidly. Data from the China Automobile Manufacturers Association showed NEV sales in the January-April period totaled 1.56 million units, up 110% from the same period of 2021.

CAAM expects NEV sales to exceed 5 million units this year. With the flourishing development of the NEV industry, the demand for supporting facilities has swelled.

Battery swapping involves replacing discharged batteries with fully charged ones, rather than the more common method of recharging depleted batteries at a charging station.

Compared to traditional charging facilities, battery replacement takes much less time and can help improve safety and extend battery life. It also has advantages in terms of maintenance and management.

With more government policies, the sector should better support the development of NEVs, industry insiders said.

Founder Securities predicts there will be over 3 million battery-powered cars with over 28,000 support installations by 2025.

Major battery swapping companies have also accelerated the establishment of nationwide battery swapping stations.

Statistics from the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance show that in April there were 1,480 battery swapping stations across the country, of which 938 were from startup Nio and 434 from battery swapping company Aulton.

Nio plans to set up more than 1,300 battery swap stations by the end of this year and add 600 a year between 2022 and 25 in China, he said.

Aulton plans to complete construction of 10,000 battery swap stations that could serve more than 10 million electric vehicles by 2025. The company’s battery swap technology is currently compatible with nine models of seven mainstream automakers.

And more and more companies have entered the market. Battery giant CATL burst onto the battery replacement scene with new services dubbed EVOGO in January.

According to CATL, the services will first roll out to 10 cities in China.

Last month, CATL offered its first battery swapping services in Xiamen, Fujian Province, and plans to open 30 battery swapping stations in the city by the end of this year.

However, challenges remain regarding standardized battery design, high capital costs and low utilization rates.

There is no uniform standard for battery models and packs of different car brands, and car manufacturers have different battery technologies and standards which are not unified at present, which limits the practical application of battery exchange.

Additionally, battery swap stations are expensive to build, operate, and maintain. According to BAIC Group’s new energy arm, a battery swap station will total nearly 10 million yuan ($1.49 million) in construction and 3.22 million yuan in battery reserves.

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