Car manufacturer revives battery swap: First station on its way

The first battery swap station is being built in Slagelse. NIO is banking on a gap in the market for cars with swappable batteries. Illustration: Nio

Ditch the slow charger and swap the old battery with a new one in no time. At one time, it was the solution to the dreaded “range anxiety” for Danish EV drivers.

It seems like an eternity ago, but the concept that Better Place was the first to launch in Denmark over 10 years ago is now being brought back to life by the electric car manufacturer NIO.

The first of the new battery swap stations will be located at Idagårdsvej 12 in Slagelse, close to Vestmotorvejen, NIO Denmark informs Ingeniøren.

The news comes a few weeks after the car manufacturer announced its arrival on the Danish market with the luxury model NIO ET7, which should be able to drive up to 1,000 kilometres on a single charge.

Added convenience

With the long range in mind, one may wonder if the risk of experiencing range anxiety in an electric car today is the same as back when Better Place built battery swap stations in Denmark and then went on a downward spiral.

“Of course, you aren’t dependent on swapping the battery in a NIO in the same way. But it’s an added convenience that we offer customers—that they can have the battery swapped in just a few minutes and thus be on the road again instead of having to spend time on charging,” says Anja Bruun Meineche, head of user development at NIO in Denmark.

According to the plan, the station in Slagelse will not be the only one that NIO’s customers will be able to use when they want to avoid a charging station or, for example, are taking long-distance trips.

Over the coming years, NIO will build more stations in Denmark, but Anja Bruun Meineche will not put numbers on how many and when.

“We are dependent on the approvals we can get and on other actors, but we of course hope that the station in Slagelse will not be the only one, and that our swap stations will also be built in other parts of the country when the opportunity presents itself.”

Watch a video of a battery swap station being tested by the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association earlier this year:

Future-proof solution

Back during the time of Better Place, battery swapping was a part of a monthly subscription. When customers bought a Renault Fluence Z.E. for almost DKK 200,000, a Better Place subscription costing a minimum of DKK 18,000 annually was required.

The subscription included, among other things, the rental of the car’s battery, free access to swap stations, and unlimited power at Better Place charging stations.

NIO is not ready to reveal the Danish prices, but according to Anja Bruun Meineche, NIO will also represent a new way of owning an electric car, as she puts it.

In Norway, the cars are sold with a so-called “Battery as a Service” (BaaS) model, so customers can choose to buy the car, but not the battery, and then instead subscribe to power, with battery swap and a certain number of free recharges included in the subscription. A BaaS agreement is required to access the battery swap stations.

For example, you can buy the NIO ES8 SUV model with a 100 kWh battery included or save NOK 160,000 (just under DKK 120,000r) and instead subscribe to BaaS for DKK 1,500 per month.

The advantage of battery swapping is also that you always have the latest battery, and that the battery is always in top-notch health.

So you do not have to fear that your healthy battery will be replaced with a worn one once the battery swap station is in business.

“The batteries are continuously getting better, and this is also something that existing customers can benefit from when they swap their battery at one of our stations. In addition, we hope that the swap stations will be able to send power back to the electricity grid when there is a need for it.”

If you prefer to swap the battery instead of charging it, there is nothing that stops you from doing that in technical terms. It does not cause wear to the car, Anja Bruun Meineche assures.

In the longer term, NIO hopes that the new battery swap stations can serve other car brands too, if other car manufacturers are on board with the idea.

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Tænker ok løsning til folk der ikke kan lade hjemme. Men i min optik er det fantastiske ved EL bilen jo at jeg aldrig skal ind på en tank og bilen er altid klar og varm om morgenen - rækkevidde angst har jeg aldrig haft, og har årligt kørselsbehov på 57-60 kkm. - 99% ladet hjemme om natten.

Jeg oplever primært at det er folk med ICE biler der snakker om rækkevidde angst 😀

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Som brugtbilkøber bliver man bedre stillet, da tilstanden på batteriet på de kendte elbiler kan være uvis, samt at en udskiftning koster kassen. Man køber blot selve bilen og vil efterfølgende kun køre med friske og måske endda opdaterede batterier.

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..er præcis det samme som med den oprindelige Better Place løsning. For at få en fornuftig dækning af byttestationer, så kræver det, at alle bilfabrikanter anvender samme batteri for alle modeller. Dvs. at de skal opgive en del af deres designfrihed og fremover vil være låst til et bestemt batteriformat.

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A solution looking for a problem......

  • 2 elbiler med adgang til egen opladning.

  • Vi har måske ladet 3.000 af 45.000 og kun fordi vi kørte på ferie i den. Min arbejdsellert har aldrig været i en hurtiglader. Endsige ladet uden for matriklen.

Det er nok lidt atypisk, men for langt de fleste er battriskift noget som skal bruges ekstremt sjældent, og du får atlså en masse ulemper men meget få realiserbare fordele.

Det eneste fornuftige argument er det med at det er nemt af skifte end batteri skulle det være defekt som brugtbil - ikke noget fluence-brugerne har nydt godt af..... PRisen per opladning på ladestationen må være ret stor ifht. en DC-lader med et kabel.......

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