Nio Battery Swaps seems to conflict with the purpose of EV
Early this month, the Chinese automaker Nio $NIO announced they had completed their 1,000th battery swapping station.
Designed to curb the "range anxiety" that consumers may face when considering switching across from an ICE vehicle, the swapping stations, as shown in the video below, provide an automated way to swap a depleted battery for a fully charged battery.
On the surface the concept makes sense, make 'something' that allows for vehicles to fast swap batteries in a matter of minutes instead of refueling that can take up to 60mins.
However, to take a line from Tesla, the whole justification for paying a premium over ICE vehicles is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. The swapping stations on the other hand seem to be a little short-sighted.
For starters, they are exclusive to Nio vehicles. They aren't a charging network that is shared amongst other automakers.
Secondly, the battery swapping stations aren't retrofitted gas/petrol stations. They are newly built structures requiring, you guessed it, fossil fuels to construct and transport.
Thirdly, overlooks the fact that consumers don't drive their car all the time, and most will leave it on their charger at home.
Fourth, and probably the most striking, battery technology is rapidly accelerating every single day. Currently, available technology allows you to recharge your car at a rate of 20 miles per minute. This isn't a pie-in-the-sky sort of innovation, this is available on the roads today and found in Lucid Air vehicles $LCID.
Lucid Air = 20 miles per minute
Porsche Taycan = 15.5 miles per minute
Tesla Model 3 = 15 miles per minute
Kia EV6 = 14.5 miles per minute
Hyundia Ioniq 5 = 13.4 miles per minute
The fastest swapping times for NIO are on the ES8 model car, at approx 3 minutes. But because each station only supports 1 car, the chances are very limited that you'll find an empty one.
All of this adds up to a rather confusing justification to plow billions of dollars, and resources into a product enhancement that is not environmentally friendly and WILL be superseded in a short amount of time.
I understand the concept of introducing initiatives like this to accelerate the adoption of a new and exciting product, however, as evidenced by Tesla's $TSLA Cybertruck with pre-orders until 2027, there is NO shortage of demand for electric vehicles. So the justification that you need these gimmicky initiatives to make sales is flawed and in my view is another example of why companies like NIO, can't compete with Tesla. They fail to grasp the core concept behind why consumers are pushing for Electric Vehicles and their innovations suffer because of this.