On October 27, Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO upgraded its battery swap service and started a new pilot program. NIO car owners can now use a larger battery pack through a paid service on a daily basis. Previously, the company only allowed owners to upgrade battery packs on a monthly or annual basis, so the new pilot program aims to improve the flexibility of battery use.
At present, there are three kinds of battery packs in NIO‘s battery swapping stations, with capacities of 70kWh, 75kWh and 100kWh respectively, among which the 75kWh is a substitute for the 70kWh battery introduced by the company in 2021, but the existing 70kWh battery packs are still on rent.
According to the new pilot program, if users of 70/75 kWh battery packs want to replace them with 100kWh battery packs, they need to pay 68 yuan ($9.37) every day. In contrast, users of 100kWh battery packs will receive 200 NIO points every day if they need to switch to 70/75 kWh battery packs. NIO points can be used in the company’s online stores or select vehicle-related services, with one point being equivalent to 0.1 yuan.
Starting from October 28, NIO will pilot this service in Guangdong, Shandong, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Huzhou, and it is expected to be promoted nationwide in late December.
NIO‘s BaaS (battery as a service) project started in 2020, which was originally set up to improve purchase flexibility. BaaS allows consumers to buy cars without batteries, which makes them more competitive in price, and provides the flexibility to pay for changing the battery capacity according to demand. NIO‘s introduction of a new battery swapping plan this time is a further extension of flexible consumption.
A more flexible battery use plan helps increase the circulation of existing battery packs while alleviating some pressures on the company caused by the high price of lithium batteries.
The price of lithium battery materials has surged in the past two years, from 41,000 yuan/ton in June 2020 to 537,500 yuan/ton on October 18, 2022. The price of battery-grade lithium carbonate has increased by over 12 times. NIO Founder William Li previously complained, “Speculative factors are the main reason as there is not such a big gap between supply and demand.”
NIO is actively developing its own industrial chain. A battery tech firm was newly established with a registered capital of 2 billion yuan, with William Li as the chairman and NIO as the wholly-owned shareholder.
In April last year, NIO planned a battery capacity of 100GWh for its industrial park in Anhui Province. In September this year, Greenwing Resources, an Australian mining company, announced that NIO would buy 12.16% of shares for 12 million Australian dollars ($7,684,680), prompting it to speed up the development of San Jorge lithium project.