The Chinese giant Geely, which notably owns the Volvo brand, has just signed a contract with the startup Nio. The aim: to allow electric cars to be “recharged” in less than 5 minutes thanks to battery exchange. A technology already existing in Europe, which would allow future Volvo, Smart, Lotus, Polestar and Smart electric cars to be charged quickly.
Currently, to recharge an electric car with an ultra-fast terminal (on the motorway for example), it takes half an hour on average, even if some models do better. We think in particular of the Tesla Model Y Propulsion (the Berlin version with a BYD battery) which requires 20 minutes to go from 10 to 80%, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 which only requires 18 minutes, or the new Li Auto Mega in China which is satisfied with 10 minutes.
5-minute charging is already in Europe
Recharging in 5 minutes is not very far away and we should see it arrive in 2024 or 2025 on the first electric cars. In reality, it already exists. Well, more or less. This is the battery exchange (battery swapping) from Nio, which we were able to try in Germany during the test of the Nio ET7.
In practice, the Chinese company has installed battery exchange stations throughout China and a few in Europe. All you have to do is go there with your electric car (which manages the parking maneuver itself) to leave with a full battery in less than 5 minutes. Battery “empty» is removed from the car by a robot, which then installs a fully recharged battery.
This technology is currently reserved for Nio electric cars in Europe. But this will change in the future, as we learn from the Chinese brand’s Weibo account. We can read that a contract has been signed with the Geely group (Lotus, Polestar, Volvo, Zeekr, Smart) to which we owe the first electric car with more than 1,000 km of autonomy.
Nio states that “the two parties will work on battery exchange standards, their technologies, the construction of a network and its operation as well as research and development around batteries, exchange technology to personalize it and integrate it into models“.
Towards Volvos that recharge in less than 5 minutes?
In other words, Geely will help Nio expand its battery exchange network and develop new electric cars incorporating this technology. Enough to offer Lotus, Volvo, Polestar, Zeekr or Smart cars that recharge in less than five minutes in the years to come. But we will surely have to be patient and this technology should not be integrated into current models, such as the Volvo EX30, EX90 or the Smart #1 and #3. Nor the Zeekr 001, X or 007 which are arriving in Europe.
Remember that Nio’s battery exchange system also allows you to choose the capacity of your battery from three options (75, 100 or 150 kWh). Very practical for adapting the capacity according to your needs and reducing consumption with a lighter battery during short journeys. Or conversely, increase autonomy during long journeys with a larger capacity battery.
Nio has a very extensive battery exchange network, with 2,163 stations in China and around fifteen in Europe, between Germany and Norway. For its part, Geely is also working on its own battery exchange network in China, but has not yet opened any stations.