We just completed a story on the new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder EV which is really a Nio ES8 which has a fascinating technology called battery swap.  The idea is that a semi-permanent kiosk can swap out your drained car battery for a fresh fully charged battery in the same time it would take to fill up as gas/diesel vehicle with old fashioned dino-juice:

This isn’t some unproven demonstration either.  Nio already has 143 battery swap stations in 58 different cities:

The battery swap idea is not new.  Several companies have tried it and eventually failed; the most notable of which was an Israeli company named “Better Place“.  The went out of business in 2013 and alot has changed since then.

If battery swapping is such a good idea, why hasn’t it worked in the past why is it a great idea now?

It turns out that electric cars have 30% few parts and have very little maintenance.  I have had 4 EV’s (or PHEVs) and can tell you that not changing the oil or worrying about a transmission fluid leak is liberating.  And that makes automobile manufactures worried.

Most people are unaware that selling new cars is a money losing business.  Nearly all of the profits for a car dealership come from the maintenance and warranty services they provide.

Without the backend profits to prop up the company, dealerships are doomed.  No one wants that to happen so they need to find new revenue streams… and fast:

“…Automakers desperately want to be treated like tech companies. These days, they’re more eager to tout screen sizes and driver aids than horsepower figures and hardware. Manufacturers are also licking their chops at the prospect of charging monthly fees for certain amenities. Cadillac is doing just this with its Super Cruise driving aid, and BMW is floating the idea of going to a subscription-based model for certain features like heated seats. Now, Chinese electric-vehicle maker Nio is going an even more extreme route, it announced Thursday.

In its home market, Nio is offering a new battery-as-a-service program, or BaaS for short. The idea is that customers can purchase a new EV without a battery and then subscribe to one for a separate monthly fee. This can reduce the new-vehicle purchase price by a whopping 70,000 yuan, roughly $10,100. But an electric car without a battery is about as useful as power windows on a submarine or a hairdryer you can use in the shower. ”  SOURCE

Imaging a world of standardized batteries.  Of course there will be hold outs; Tesla for one would not play nice in the sandbox because they don’t want to give up their lead and they have invested soooo much in their highly profitable super-charger infrastructure.  However, many other manufacturers will want to get along.

We can see a world where the battery packs come in 2 difference sizes (small car/SUV and truck) and 2 different capacity models (for short and long range).  Ideal locations for these battery swap stations would be:

  • Current car dealerships – large parking lots can easily accommodate a kiosk or two
  • Current gas stations – even small stations can have a few gas pumps replaced with a battery swap kiosk
  • Parking lots – Companies like Impark (in Canada and the US) will happily swap a few parking stalls in their lesser used lots for battery swap stations

Does Battery Swapping Replace Home Charging?

In a word, no.  Of course if you had some reason not to charge at home like your small apartment building does not have indoor chargers or your house only has a laneway without a garage, then battery swapping may be the only source of new electricity.

Even better than the near zero maintenance of EV’s, is the fact that you avoid the annoyance of “filling up the tank”.  Charging at home or at the office is a god send. For most people and companies there would be no reason to stop charging at home.  Battery swapping would simply be an option to be used when you are in a hurry or when you are traveling very long distances.

What Do You Think About EV Battery Swapping?

Tell us what you think about adding battery swapping to the list of charging options for your new EV, in the comments section below.




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