The first new energy vehicle battery swapping station in Sanya, Hainan province, is put into operation in July 2020. The station is located near Sanya Phoenix International Airport. (SHA XIAOFENG / FOR CHINA DAILY)
Battery swapping has the potential to shore up the development of the new energy vehicle industry, according to experts at a recent industry forum held in Beijing.
A common complaint about NEVs is the time it takes to recharge batteries. Some experts claim the battery-swap approach eliminates this issue, allowing drivers to swap in and out fully charged batteries in much less time.
Battery swapping can improve safety and lengthen battery life, said Zhang Jianping, co-chairman of Aulton New Energy Automotive Technology, a company that specializes in the NEV battery swapping industry.
Battery-swap stations can work as a battery sharing platform, and are expected to help cut the cost of NEVs and improve the NEV competitiveness, Zhang said. He made the remarks at the China EV100 Forum from Jan 15 to 17 in Beijing.
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The company's battery-swapping technology is currently compatible with nine models from seven mainstream automakers. Zhang said that unified physical interfaces and unified electromechanical connection are key to battery swapping's standardization.
The rapid battery swapping technology is very suitable for commercial vehicles with long operating hours, such as taxis, online-hailed taxis and logistics vehicles in cities.
Wang Binggang, an expert working on a new energy vehicle research project led by the Ministry of Science and Technology
In addition, battery swapping is expected to help optimize resource utilization.
Battery-swapping stations will cut at least 20 times the land needed for separate charging piles, according to Zhang.
He explained that around 12 square meters are needed per car for standard charging, while Aulton's fourth-generation battery-swap stations cover an area of 150 sq m, but can serve 3,000 vehicles.
The company's latest-generation battery-swap stations enable multiple models under different brands to switch their batteries in 20 seconds, with a whole battery-swap service completed in 1 minute.
According to Zhang, the Aulton 4.0 battery-swap stations have been put into operation in 20 cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guangdong province; and Kunming, Yunnan province.
This year, Aulton is set to establish 500 new battery-swap stations in the country, to cover more than 50 cities, with the total number reaching 800.
By 2025, the company will have 5,000 battery-swap stations in 100 cities in China, aiming to serve 22 million vehicles in total, Zhang said.
Statistics from the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance show that by the end of 2020, there were 555 battery-swap stations across the country, of which 286 were from Aulton and 175 from Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio.
Shen Fei, vice-president of power management at Nio, said that in 2021, the company will increase the total number of its battery-swap stations to around 500.
Nio has applied for more than 1,200 technical patents for its electric vehicle battery-swap stations, Shen said at the forum in Beijing.
Wang Binggang, an expert working on a new energy vehicle research project led by the Ministry of Science and Technology, said, "I think the rapid battery swapping technology is very suitable for commercial vehicles with long operating hours, such as taxis, online-hailed taxis and logistics vehicles in cities."
The following of battery swapping technology should aim for standardization, to realize sharing among different models and brands and reduce waste, Wang added.
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