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Tesla Challenger NIO Expands its EV Battery Program in China Allowing Drivers to Upgrade to a 100 kWh Battery Pack

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【Summary】Electric car maker NIO Inc. has expanded its battery exchange program in China that allows customers to upgrade the battery in their vehicles for a small monthly fee. The new battery upgrade program allows NIO customers with the standard 70 or 75 kWh battery pack in their vehicles to upgrade to a more powerful and longer range 100 kWh battery by paying an additional 880 yuan (US$140) a month.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 07, 2021 9:30 AM PT
Tesla Challenger NIO Expands its EV Battery Program in China Allowing Drivers to Upgrade to a 100 kWh Battery Pack
NIO's ES8 SUV has a battery pack that can be swapped out in minutes.

Electric car maker NIO Inc. announced a new battery exchange program in China that allows customers to upgrade the battery in their vehicles for a small monthly fee, Chinese news outlet Gasgoo reports.

The new battery upgrade program allows NIO customers with the standard 70 or 75 kWh battery pack in their vehicles to upgrade to a more powerful and longer range 100 kWh battery by paying an additional 880 yuan (US$140) a month. The 100 kWh battery pack has a NEDC range of 615 km (382 miles) and is available as an option on NIO vehicles.

NIO's newest 100kWh battery pack features cell-to-pack (CTP) technology and was jointly developed with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL). 

NIO's new battery upgrade service was first launched as a pilot in July in the cities of Urumchi, Shenyang, Xining, Lanzhou, Yinchuan, and Hohhot. The recent announcement marks the expansion of the battery upgrade service across the Chinese mainland.

NIO's electric vehicles are uniquely designed, as the battery packs are designed to be removed and swapped in minutes at one of the company's "battery swapping stations" that are opening in cities throughout China.

Rather than plugging in and waiting to fully charge the vehicle's battery, NIO customers can have it removed and replaced with a fully-charged one in a highly automated process that takes as little as 3 minutes at one of NIO's battery swapping stations.

Prior to the introduction of the bigger 100kWh battery pack, NIO launched a Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) monthly subscription plan last year. The service, which first launched in Aug 2020, allows customers to pay a monthly rental fee for the battery that's separate from the price of the vehicle. The BaaS plan is intended to lower the purchase price of the vehicle making it more affordable. 

Under the BaaS model, if a customer decides to purchase a NIO electric vehicle and subscribe to use the 70kWh battery pack under the BaaS model, the purchase price drops by 70,000 yuan ($10,450). Customers then pay a monthly fee of 980 yuan ($146) for the battery pack itself. 

For example, a customer that wants the bigger 100kWh battery can deduct 128,000 yuan ($19,105) off the sticker price and pay a monthly subscription of 1,480 yuan ($223) per month for the battery.

The subscription service was designed to offset the cost of the battery pack, which is the most expensive component of any electric vehicle. An electric vehicle's battery pack alone adds thousands of dollars to the sticker price.

According to NIO, both BaaS and non-BaaS customers can upgrade their vehicle battery service for the same monthly fee. For the BaaS users, they need to pay 880 yuan per month for battery upgrade in addition to 980 yuan ($155) per month for renting batteries.

The monthly and annual battery upgrade services will provide batteries with larger energy capacity and lower usage costs, according to NIO.

For NIO customers that prefer to drive with the smaller battery, they will also be able to "downgrade" their vehicle battery packs from 100 kWh to 75kWh, according to Gasgoo.

Last week, NIO reached an agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to jointly construct battery swapping stations for electric vehicles in Europe. The two companies plan to build and operate the first of them in Europe starting in 2022.

As an added bonus, the ability to switch out the battery means the vehicle experiences no battery degradation, which can result in a higher resale value for pre-owned NIO vehicles.

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