NIO confirmed that it started its first shipment of power swap stations that have been made in Europe. The Chinese automaker is shortening the supply chain and is making sure prospective customers will have more places where they can simply change the vehicle’s battery and then continue with their route. Here’s why it matters.
Just a little over a month after it confirmed the production start of power swap stations in Europe, NIO announced that it is delivering the first units to Germany. Many have expected the UK or Norway to be among the markets that will benefit from NIO’s increased European presence, but it looks like the company wants to compete with Tesla and other legacy carmakers that are just kickstarting their venture into the all-electric world.
NIO’s power swap stations are a real, trialed, and tested alternative to charging networks. Whereas a newer Tesla Model S would need around 30 minutes to reach almost an 80% state of charge starting from 0%, NIO’s solution provides owners with a fully charged battery in just three to five minutes. And that’s available for the Gen 2 stations. The Gen 3 will do everything even faster, the company promises.
Moreover, the whole process is done automatically. The information regarding how many batteries are available at the swapping station is available in the built-in navigation. All the driver has to do is confirm they’re ready, and the car will park itself. The process will begin after the vehicle is in position.
NIO chose Hungary as the place where it will manufacture its power swap station kits and it’ll also create a research and development center in that small country in Central Europe. “The sound diplomatic relations between China and Hungary have laid a solid foundation for business cooperation,”said NIO Co-founder and President Qin Lihong.
NIO battery swaps are free of charge in China. In Europe, however, customers pay a fee of €10 ($10) and €0.20 ($0.20) for every kWh the battery has. Most buyers went for the 100-kWh units, so the total amount comes in at around €30 ($30). In comparison, Tesla‘s Supercharging costs approximately €0.57 per kWh.
NIO customers can also choose to buy their vehicle with a battery and pay for the whole thing, or they can opt-out and keep the battery under a subscription program.