A Tesla China executive's suggestion that charging is the best way to replenish energy and that battery swap, a model central to NIO, will be replaced has sparked an unhappy response from the latter.
Grace Tao, Tesla's vice president of external affairs, said on Weibo Saturday that Tesla had tried battery swap in 2013 and that it was a good way to replenish energy for specific areas such as cabs or buses, but that "We've always believed that the charging model is the best way to replenish energy for large-scale civil electric vehicles."
Tao also drew an analogy to the electronics industry, saying that 10 years ago many products were equipped with removable batteries, but now the vast majority of electronics offer integrated internal batteries, and the way to replenish energy has shifted from battery replacement to high power fast charging.
On Sunday, NIO's Senior Director of Corporate Communications Ma Lin said on Weibo that he saw Ms. Tao's comments about battery swap and that "due to the different positions, NIO and Tesla have different perspectives on battery swap and energy replenishment".
Ma said that the starting point of NIO's energy replenishment system is to provide users with all scenarios of energy replenishment through a "rechargeable, battery swappable and upgradeable" energy replenishment system to protect the interests of users throughout the product life cycle.
NIO's energy replenishment system currently consists of mobile charging vehicles, home charging piles, 20kW fast charging piles (destination charging piles), NIO's own and third-party supercharging piles, and battery swap stations.
He stressed that NIO's view on charging piles is no different from Tesla's, and will also vigorously build charging piles and carry out the construction of the replenishment system in areas where other companies are reluctant to venture, such as China's northeast.
"We are not without differences, NIO charging price is half of Tesla," he said.
He also said that thanks to battery swap technology and battery swap stations, NIO users can buy or rent batteries with the latest technology at a very low cost and enjoy the benefits of technological advances.
He said that the deployment of NIO's second-generation battery swap station will give users the option of using smaller batteries in general and renting larger ones at low cost for occasional long-distance trips, "which would not be possible without battery swap technology and battery swap stations."
The following is a translated version of his full response:
I saw Tesla China's Grace Tao's statement on "battery swap". Due to the different starting points, NIO and Tesla have different perspectives on "battery swap" and "energy replenishment".
The starting point of NIO's energy replenishment system is to provide users with all scenarios of energy replenishment through a "rechargeable, battery swappable and upgradeable" energy replenishment system to protect the interests of users throughout the product life cycle.
The NIO energy replenishment system currently consists of mobile charging vehicles, home charging piles, 20kW fast charging piles (destination charging piles), own and third-party supercharging piles, and battery swap stations.
I would like to explain what rechargeable, battery swappable, and upgradeable is.
Rechargeable: NIO has announced that it will build 600 supercharging stations and 15,000 destination charging piles this year.
There is no difference between NIO and Tesla in terms of the role of charging piles.
NIO will also vigorously build charging piles, and will vigorously carry out the construction of complementary energy systems in areas where other companies are reluctant to venture, such as the northeast.
The two sides are not without differences: NIO charging price is half of Tesla.
Battery swappable: Here we are talking about battery swap stations, which have appeared in the Chinese government's work report for two consecutive years and are the most popular energy supplement product among NIO users.
Ms. Tao pointed out that it's not the speed of the battery swap that determines the efficiency of the battery swap station, but how long it takes to fully charge for the next user. This conclusion makes sense, but it is the first generation of NIO battery swap station that has to consider.
After extensive R&D and testing, NIO will begin deploying the second generation battery swap station in April of this year. It can store up to 13 batteries and provide battery swap replenishment service for up to 312 vehicles per day and supports automatic vehicle parking.
In such a situation, the speed of battery swap becomes more important.
NIO will accelerate the construction of battery swap stations this year and plans to build no less than 500 battery swap stations nationwide by 2021. All NIO customers are currently entitled to free battery swap replenishment.
Upgradable: Battery technology is always improving.
NIO's new 100 kWh battery is already in Beijing's battery swap stations; NIO has announced that it will launch a 150-degree solid-state battery in the fourth quarter of next year.
Even the first NIO ES8 delivered in 2018 can get a range increase of more than 40% by upgrading the 100-degree battery pack.
Thanks to battery swap technology and battery swap stations, NIO customers can purchase or rent the latest technology batteries at a very low cost and enjoy the dividends of technological advances.
After NIO's second-generation battery swap station is rolled out, users can choose to use a small capacity battery in general and rent a larger battery at a low cost for occasional long-distance trips. Without battery swap technology and battery swap station, this could not be done.
Rechargeable, battery swappable, upgradeable - this is NIO as a high-end brand to provide users with a full range of scenarios to replenish energy services.
Battery swap station is an important infrastructure for NIO, considering user experience and interests. Whether battery swap is good or not, users have the most say.