eastwest connect

Battery swap vs supercharge: which will win the endgame?



On September 10, NIO announced that the total number of power swap stations in China exceeded 1,100. According to the plan, by 2025, NIO will build 4,000 power swap stations around the world.

With respect to super-charging, Tesla also has been increasing its super charging stations. On September 9, 2022, the number of Tesla charging piles exceeded 9,000 in China, and the total number of super-charging stations exceeded 1,300.

Further, there are other vendors joining the super-charging track.

Kirin battery of CATL not only supports 4C charging rate, but also can achieve 10-minute fast charge (10%-80%).

In August 2022, XPeng launched S4 ultra-fast charging. The maximum power of the S4 single pile can reach 480kW, and the peak charging power can reach 400kW. The battery range can increase by 200km in 5 minutes of charging for the currently supported XPeng G9 model.

With the continuous iteration improvement of batteries and charging technology, it seems that super-charging may become the ultimate solution for electric vehicles.

But due to limited grid capacity, super-charging could overload the grid if it starts to take off in scale.

To get a feel, let’s take XPeng G9 as an example. G9 comes with an 800V system. It not only charges fast on the S4 ultra-fast charging pile, but also charges fast on the regular charging pile. So we may see this phenomenon: A row of cars are charging together, a XPeng G9 comes in, and everyone finds the power drops suddenly as most of the power is sucked in by the G9.

This is just for one G9 without being on true super-charging mode. You can image what will happen to the grid network if all cars are on super-charging.

The construction of the super-charging station has extremely high requirements on the power distribution network. As such, the idea of energy storage may need to be introduced to resolve the impact on the distribution network.

Tesla has made this attempt in the newly completed solar V4 super charging station. With solar panels and Megapack equipment capable of energy storage, it can store 3mWh of energy.

XPeng also experimentally built 300kW energy storage charging piles in suburban areas and highways, and tried the idea of energy storage.

In the end, it appears that super-charging also requires the construction of energy storage station. Previously, the main advantage of super-charging over swap station is saving the cost of building energy storage, and this advantage is expected to disappear eventually.

In contrast, NIO’s power swap station is essentially an energy storage station in the first place and has other main advantages over super-charging such as enabling battery swap and BaaS battery rental service.

Ultimately, both systems may co-exist. But for NIO, the power swap station vision has set itself apart from the competition and served its business model well.