Nio gets mixed reactions with new battery promising longer range

2 min read
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William Li Bin, founder and CEO of Nio unveiled the electric coupe SUV model EC6, with a claimed NEDC range of 615 km at its annual launch event Nio Day in Shenzhen on Saturday, December 28, 2019. (Image credit: Nio)

Electric vehicle startup Nio on Saturday announced it will not begin delivery of its third mass-market model until the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2020. The long-rumored compact crossover comes with a new 100 kWh battery pack. Unveiled at a yearly launch event, the battery’s reception was much warmer as details about the new vehicles had already been leaked prior to the event.

Why it matters: With the new battery pack, Nio is hoping to eliminate range anxiety and beat competitors.

  • Tesla is looking to release a version of Model 3 with a 100kWh battery pack, according to code reportedly leaked in its recent software updates.

Details: Nio fans at the annual “Nio Day” in Shenzhen were ambivalent about the liquid-cooled battery pack.

  • The new 100 kWh battery pack will be equipped in both the EC6, its third electric SUV model, and redesigned the ES8 SUV. According to founder William Li, it only takes 5.5 hours to fully charge the battery with a new 20 kW DC fast charger for home use.
  • The company also released a set of energy upgrade plans for current owners with the 70 kWh pack. The plan includes a one-time RMB 58,000 ($8,300) fee for replacement or a subscription of RMB 1,280 per month.
  • The new battery pack allows EC6 drivers to go up to 615 km (382 miles) on one charge. It extends the range of the ES8 to 580 km. Nio fans cheered when this announcement was made.
  • Prices for EC6 models were not revealed, and all the vehicle models with 100 kWh battery pack will not be delivered until the fourth quarter of 2020.

Nio seeks to allay customer fears over range with new battery swap stations

On-site reactions: TechNode was at the launch event and talked with a few Nio owners.

  • Several said they would buy the new battery pack. Others were more concerned about the availability via Nio’s battery swapping service network.
  • A Nio owner surnamed Tian told TechNode that he will not consider it until the new battery pack is available for swapping. Currently, he swaps his battery free of charge every day on his way to work.

Context: Nio has bet big on battery swapping technologies as part of a broader “Battery as a Service” strategy. This term was coined by William Li to describe a comprehensive energy ecosystem including battery swapping and valet charging services.

  • Li revealed on Saturday that Nio owners have so far swapped batteries over 230,000 times in the company’s service network of over 120 swapping stations in China.
  • Investors have questioned if the incentive policy is economically sustainable for the company. Li responded in an earnings call in September, saying that the cost of electricity is “quite low” with an additional cost of around RMB 50,000 each day.