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NIO (NYSE:NIO), one of the largest manufacturers of electric vehicles in the world, is doubling down on its strategy to differentiate from the existing competitors in the industry by betting quite heavily on the battery swap stations.
As a refresher, NIO’s Battery Swap Station 2.0 can perform 312 automated battery swaps per day. During this process, automatic battery and electric system checks are also conducted in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the electric vehicle. Moreover, NIO EVs are able to automatically park into these stations, thereby allowing for a seamless customer experience. Bear in mind that the establishment of these stations is a capital-intensive process. Even though the company has managed to curtail its per-unit cost by around 50 percent, each Battery Swap 2.0 station still costs around RMB 1.5 million ($232,000).
This brings us to the crux of the matter. As a part of its Power Day 2021, NIO has announced an ambitious target of expanding its network of battery swap stations to 4,000 units globally by 2025. This target will ensure that 90 percent of NIO’s customers will have at least one battery swap station within a 3-km radius of their residence. For reference, the company has deployed 301 battery swap stations, 204 supercharging stations, and 382 destination charging units in China so far. In 2021 alone, the company is now planning to establish around 700 battery swap stations, up from the previous target of 500 units. This means that by 2025, NIO will have spent $928 million on battery swap stations alone!
In another positive development, NIO has now opened its charging stations and battery swap units to all OEMs. Back in April, we had reported that NIO had opened its charging infrastructure to Ford’s Mustang Mach-E users in China. Now it appears that NIO has extended this courtesy to other companies as well, opening a lucrative monetization avenue for itself in the process.
At present, NIO offers its customers a variety of charging solutions. These include Power Home, a dedicated home charging solution, and Power Mobile, a mobile charging solution whereby an EV may be charged through a fleet of charging trucks. Moreover, the Power Express is a 24-hour facility available on-demand to NIO customers, whereby EVs are picked up, charged, and then dropped off at a pre-chosen spot. Finally, NIO customers can also access China’s network of over 300,000 public charging stations.
In a bid to make its EVs more affordable, NIO allows users to buy its electric cars while renting batteries under the ambit of its Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) facility. For a fixed monthly payment – $141 per month for the 70-kWh battery pack – users can slash over $10,000 off the retail price of NIO’s EV models.