Under their own brands, or behind original European subsidiaries, Chinese manufacturers are increasingly present in Europe. Nio plans to join them next year by standing out with different offers.
Nio storming Europe: This is nothing new! In May 2019, Lihong Qin, president of Nio, said to make it “a top priority”. It was then a question of introducing the electric SUV ES6 by 2025.
Now, it is in the second half of 2021 that the Chinese manufacturer will attack our continent, according to Automotive News Europe, still with this model.
The battery, supplied by a joint venture (Weineng Wuhan Battery Asset) created by Chinese manufacturers including CATL, may be requested on lease. In China, this option, called “Battery as a Service” or BaaS, lowers the price of the ES6 from 343,600 to 273,600 yuan (from 42,000 to 33,500 euros approximately). And this, with monthly rents starting at 980 yuan (120 euros) for a pack with an energy capacity of 70 kWh.
According to Lihong Qin, motorists will more easily and quickly come to electric mobility with such a scenario.
One of the original features of the brand is to have planned its electric cars for the battery swap, like Renault with its Fluence Z.E. as part of the Better Place project. The 143 dedicated stations installed in China have already recorded 800,000 exchanges to date.
Encouraged by the Chinese government, Nio has developed a standard in this area that will allow other manufacturers to switch to swap with the same packs.
It’s no wonder that Nio is pushing forward its European roadmap, as other Chinese manufacturers are arriving on the continent, notably in France. Thus Aiways which has already delivered several hundred of its U5s to Corsica a few weeks ago.
One of the major interests of battery rental, for motorists who choose it, is to overcome its aging. Those who operate the in-station rapid exchange service will face it in a very different way. Their new battery can be replaced by older ones that will not offer quite the same range. Conversely, with a car that is already highly mileage, drivers will continually benefit from packs that are normally fairly recent.
What about the notion of ownership of the battery with the swap? Does the rental not apply in this case?
Nio has already encountered some financial difficulties in the past. What would happen to the units with battery rental if, after arriving in Europe, the manufacturer disappears? Would the car be stranded, as Weineng Wuhan Battery Asset may well decide since this is technically possible remotely and the rents would not be paid directly to it?
Questions not to be overlooked before signing up for an electric car from the brand.
Anyway, if Nio managed to impose its swap standard in Europe, with strong support from major manufacturers such as the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, the Volkswagen groups, BMW, PSA, etc., the system could work very well. With a satisfactory network of stations on European territory, the fear of battery failure could be virtually eliminated.
On the other hand, what a task for all models of electric cars to be compatible! A utopia, no doubt, since most have a specific battery and it will be the same for many future EV models! Unless, in at least ten years …