Chinese electric car maker Nio has a plan to make electric cars more affordable by allowing consumers to purchase its vehicles without a battery, adding the ability to swap in the most appropriate battery pack as needed.
The company's 'Battery as a Service' plan (BaaS) enables consumers to save up to 70,000 Chinese Yuan (AUD$14,128) off the purchase price of a Nio model by renting their car's battery for around AU$197 per month.
"The battery price will neither be included in the vehicle sales invoice, nor in the down payment and instalments of auto loan," the company announced at the service's launch in August 2020.
"Moreover, BaaS users can subscribe to battery packs of various capacity according to their needs and pay on a monthly basis."
For example, buying Nio's ES6 crossover with a BaaS plan will reduce the recommended retail price from 358,000 Yuan (AUD$72,101) to 273,600 Yuan (AUD$55,103), once you factor in China's New Energy Vehicle (NEV) subsidy.
Nio claims its new service will remove the cost of battery degradation for owners, improving cars resale values and allowing for on-demand swaps, upgrades and servicing to ensure batteries are kept in optimal condition.
The $197-per-month fee includes use of a 70kWh battery and a worry-free service plan, but consumers can opt to forego the service plan and pay an additional battery guarantee fee of 80 Yuan (AUD$16) per month.
Nio's worry-free service package includes no usage limits on repairs and maintenance, door-to-door pick-up and delivery, a free courtesy car, free car washing, free airport parking and free cellular data, amongst other things.
“As of today, Nio has deployed 143 battery swap stations across 64 cities in China, and completed over 800,000 battery swaps for our users,” Nio CEO William Bin Li said.
“The advantages of our chargeable, swappable and upgradable battery swap technologies will continue to enhance competitiveness of Nio products, promote conversion to our premium smart EVs and create more values for our users.”
The idea of swapping batteries was proposed as a viable alternative to waiting for an electric vehicle to charge, with Tesla trialling the idea in 2014. Two years later the program was dumped in favour of a fast-charging network.
Nio currently offers three production vehicles – the ES6 crossover, the ES8 seven-seater SUV and the soon-to-be-released EC6 coupe SUV – but it only sells cars in China, despite operating a North American head office out of Silicon Valley.
In the second quarter of 2020, Nio delivered a total of 10,331 vehicles, bringing its annual delivery total to 14,169 so far this year – marking an increase of 190.8 per cent year-on-year.