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EV with plug charging old-fashioned: check NIO’s battery swap

December 1, 2022

NIO Power Swap Station are battery hotels

For this reason, NIO has created so-called Power Swap Stations, also called battery hotels by NIO. At these Power Swap Stations, NIO removes the battery pack from under the car on site and immediately mounts another battery pack so you can get back on the road quickly.

14 million battery changes

There are already 1,200 Power Swap Stations in China, 100 of which are already in Shanghai. More than 14 million of these battery swaps (battery swaps) have already been performed in China, all without problems. The goal is to have opened more than 4,000 of these switching stations worldwide by 2025, with at least 1,000 of them outside China. In Europe, NIO already foresees a solid 120 Power Swap Stations by 2023. But that should soon become 1,000 so that an international network is created. Already, NIO users can visit a Power Swap Station near Düsseldorf (Hilden) and on the route between Stuttgart and Munich (Zusmarshausen).

In early 2022, on Jan. 19, the first switching station in NIO’s European Power Swap network was opened in Norway, now followed by more Power Swap Stations in both Norway, Sweden and Germany. Power Swap Stations for the European market are produced at the NIO Power Europe plant in Budapest, Hungary, where the first Power Swap Station left the factory last September.

Tilburg has the scoop

Tilburg has the first such battery swap station in the Netherlands. Then why Tilburg? It is a strategic location between Breda and Eindhoven. NIO expects many riders between these cities. Accessibility is also good in Tilburg. The Power Swap Station is located at the Van der Valk Hotel in Tilburg, right on the A58 from Tilburg to Breda. So, like Tesla, Nio has its eye on the Van der Valk hotel chain. In the future, more of these battery hotels will be located at Van der Valk branches. NIO already mentions The Hague, Utrecht, Harmelen and Apeldoorn, among others.

Daniel de Groot, Head of Power at NIO Netherlands

“With this battery swap station, we are introducing a Power Swap system that is standardized for all NIO models and enables a fully automatic battery swap in as little as five minutes. This gives NIO riders maximum flexibility. In addition to the option of charging at home, at the public charging station or via quick charger along the highways, NIO drivers can also choose to swap the battery for a full one within five minutes to be back on the road immediately,” said Daniel de Groot, Head of Power at NIO Netherlands.

EV with plug charging OLDWHERE! – NIO Power Swap Station in Tilburg – AutoRAI TV

In total, everything takes ten minutes

At the Tilburg branch, you can be on your way after only ten minutes. Because getting into the parking lot takes about a few minutes. The actual battery change takes only five minutes. That’s shorter than an average refueling session. Building a Swap Station takes about two months. Although on the outside it looks like an aluminum-colored cube with a black roll-up door, there is some ingenuity on the inside.

Per day 312 battery changes!

NIO doesn’t call them battery hotels for nothing, because they are. Each Power Swap Station in the Netherlands can house thirteen battery packs. NIO guarantees that a battery pack is always at least 90 percent charged. In theory, a Power Swap Station – the size of a double garage box – can perform 312 battery swaps, but because the number of NIOs in the Netherlands is still limited, that number is of course somewhat lower now. Nio can adjust the number of batteries in a battery hotel according to demand. Six battery packs are now charging in Tilburg, ready to be swapped by NIO riders.

NIO ET7 at Power Swap Station in Tilburg

Lazy, you don’t have to do anything

Changing a battery pack does not require you to do anything at all yourself. You simply drive to the battery hotel and the car does the rest. The NIO parks in reverse completely autonomously. You can stay in the car even when the battery change is performed. The system elevators the car, all screws are loosened with laser technology, and a magnet grabs the battery pack. The battery pack sinks into the floor. A new battery is then collected at the battery hotel and then bolted back under the car. Done and done! No dirty hands, no filling gun or charging cable removal. Without having to do anything, the NIO is ready to use again.

NIO ET7 at Power Swap Station in Tilburg

No new technology

The technology of such a battery swap is not new. It has been around for four years. Hence, China also already has 1,200 of these Power Swap Stations. A new generation of such a battery hotel does follow in 2023. That variant also has the ability to capture power from the region’s power grid at peak times, to be fed back at a later time if desired when that need arises.

NIO Power Swap Station covers 65 square meters

To minimize load on the power grid anyway, battery packs in such a battery hotel are charged with 20 to 80 kW of charging power. This is also better for battery life. A Power Swap Station takes up about 65 square meters. That’s a lot smaller than, say, a Tesla charging station. Also, the grid connection of a Nio Power Swap Station is a lot smaller making everything technically quite easy to control. Only obtaining permits takes a particularly long time, according to NIO.

NIO ET7 at Power Swap Station in Tilburg

Larger batteries on the go

NIO is currently working with 75 and 100 kWh battery packs, but a 150 kWh battery with as much as 1,000 kilometers of range will be added in 2023. So it is possible to opt for a battery upgrade before your vacation to Spain, Austria or Italy and then switch back to a smaller 75 kWh battery at home. Nio has thought it through and has high hopes for this so-called Battery as a Service philosophy. In such a construction, you don’t own the battery, but you always have the latest battery. NIO is the owner.

Buy? Well, rent!

Of course, it is possible to buy an NIO complete, including battery. Still, the brand has high hopes for the subscription model where you can drive an NIO for a monthly fee, including the benefits of a Power Swap Station. It is also possible to buy the car but without the battery pack. So in this case, you pay for the use of the battery. Until March 31, 2023, a session at a Power Swap Station is free. What the battery swap will cost next is not yet known.

But there is no question that it works. A battery change has never been easier. Nio hopes to use this technology to convince more people to drive electric. Would you consider it? Currently, NIO has three models: the ET7, ET5 and EL7. You can check out a review of the NIO ET7 here.

In June 2018, NIO’s first volume model hit the market and now, four years later, the brand has already built its 200,000th car. By the end of 2022, NIO will be operating in six countries. By 2025, the car brand is already operating in 25 countries.