Do you remember a few years ago, when Elon Musk proudly demonstrated a very cool battery-swapping feature for their Model S? The idea was that rather than charge, you could pull into a little station, and get a juiced up battery in exchange for your depleted on. Tesla even built a single pilot shop in California, which they later abandoned, along with the idea in its entirety.
However unfortunate that may be, the idea itself has lived on, in China of all places. The automaker NIO, who makes a pretty popular EV in their domestic market, has been swapping batteries utilizing Tesla’s method for the past two years.
Not only have NIO been experimenting with this method, which caught flak from skeptics in the US, but they have just completed their 500,000th battery swap. If anything, the number of swaps stands as a testament to how feasible this method is, when charging time is scarce.
Unlike Tesla, who only built the one station, NIO has 131 stations in a total of 58 cities. The scale of that operation is hard to believe, especially if you weren’t aware that NIO was even utilizing this method. From a video uploaded to Youtube last year, we can see the Power Swap completing its task in about five minutes, which is much faster than the best DC fast-charging.