NIO's third-generation battery swap stations will be compatible with ALPS models, an executive said.
(NIO Power vice president Shen Fei at a user communication event on February 27. Image from NIO App)
The 800-volt high-voltage platform is seen as enabling vehicles to be charged faster, and a sub-brand of NIO (NYSE: NIO) will also use the new technology.
The entire lineup of NIO's sub-brand codenamed ALPS will be built on the 800 V platform, said Shen Fei, vice president of NIO Power, on February 27.
Shen revealed the information during a face-to-face communication with vehicle owners yesterday in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, about NIO adding 1,000 battery swap stations this year, according to meeting minutes shared by some participants on the NIO App.
NIO's current NT 1.0 and NT 2.0-based models are all built on the mainstream 400 V platform, and XPeng's (NYSE: XPEV) flagship SUV, the G9, is the first production vehicle based on the 800 V among local automakers in China.
Li Auto said yesterday that it will use 800 V technology and has built its own silicon carbide module factory. Current real-world measurements show that Li Auto's new product can save about 15 percent of battery capacity compared to mainstream 400 V, IGBT module products, resulting in significant cost reductions, it said.
NIO confirmed in August 2021 that it would enter the mass market through a sub-brand, and in subsequent communications said it had two sub-brands, internally codenamed ALPS and Firefly.
NIO's ALPS sub-brand will have a new channel and the number of planned models is expected to be half that of the NIO brand, Jiemian said in a February 22 report.
ALPS is targeting the mainstream market of RMB 200,000 ($28,840) to 300,000, and the vehicles will be built on the NT 3.0 platform, support high-voltage fast charging, and will be ready for mass production and delivery in the second half of 2024, according to Jiemian's report.
In the communication yesterday, Shen said NIO's third-generation battery swap stations will be compatible with ALPS models.
NIO unveiled its third-generation battery swap station at NIO Day 2022 on December 24, capable of storing up to 21 battery packs, up from 13 in its previous generation and five in the first generation of the facility.
Shen said the entire ALPS lineup will use the 800 V solution, and NIO's third-generation battery swap stations will need to reserve a portion of their bays for 800 V packs.
As for exactly how many third-generation battery swap stations will be allocated to ALPS and how many dedicated stations the sub-brand will have, that has not been determined.
The exact number and decision will depend on the sales dynamics of the new models, and NIO has prepared several options, Shen said.
The battery packs for ALPS models may be a little thinner than those used in NIO-branded models, according to the minutes of the event.
Shen's latest revelation is consistent with recent rumors about NIO's batteries.
NIO held a battery partner forum in Hefei, Anhui province on February 24, where the company announced the start of construction of the first phase of its battery plant, according to a report yesterday by Beijing-based Cbea.com, which focuses on the battery industry.
NIO is developing its own lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) and 46 series ternary batteries and plans to mass produce both, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company's LMFP batteries will be supplied to ALPS, a sub-brand that will target a market with a price range of RMB 200,000-300,000, the report said.
NIO's 46 series batteries will also be used in the 800 V pack, which is expected to be used in its NT 3.0 platform models by 2024, according to the report.
In addition to saying that the ALPS brand will be built on the 800 V platform, Shen also mentioned that NIO's goal of adding 1,000 battery swap stations this year is challenging but basically achievable.
William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of NIO, announced on February 21 that the company plans to add 1,000 battery swap stations in 2023, 2.5 times the previously announced plan of 400.
Of the 1,000 new stations, about 400 will be located in highway service areas or near highway entrances and exits. The other 600 stations will be deployed in urban areas, Li said last week.
Shen said yesterday that NIO will try to have the 400 highway stations located in service areas, with the last choice being locations within 3 kilometers of highway entrances and exits.
He also mentioned that NIO's network of battery swap stations covering nine major horizontal highways and nine vertical highways in China could be completed by the end of this year, at least a year ahead of schedule.
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