is aiming to build about 300 super-fast charging stations this year, and also plans to add 10,000 new charging piles this year, according to local media.

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(Image credit: Li Auto)

Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI) is starting to build out its charging infrastructure as its first all-electric model is set to be launched this year.

Li Auto's infrastructure build-out will enter the "NIO pace," with the company setting a goal of building about 300 super-fast charging stations within the year, with about 10 already deployed in highway service areas, a 36kr report today said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move is in preparation for the launch of Li Auto's first all-electric model, which will be an all-electric MPV expected to be released by the end of 2023, and ultra-fast charging will be one of the highlights of the vehicle, according to the report.

Earlier this week, one of Li Auto's under-construction 800 V charging stations was seen at a highway service area in China, sparking widespread discussion in the Chinese community.

All of Li Auto's current models are extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs), which are essentially plug-in hybrids. Because these vehicles can be refueled, Li Auto has not started working on charging facilities in the past few years.

By 2025, Li Auto will have built a total of 3,000 supercharging stations, at a total cost of 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion), Li Xiang, the company's founder, chairman and CEO, said in a media event last week.

For a company with annual revenues in the RMB 100 billion range, these costs are not as high as one might think after being spread out over five years, he said.

Li Auto is very confident about the coverage of supercharging piles along highways because China has been encouraging car companies to build supercharging stations since last year, he said.

The company's supercharging stations will be open to other models built on the 800 V platform, ensuring that each of its peer brands can also charge at a high level of efficiency, according to Li.

In China, NIO (NYSE: NIO) is one of the most aggressive car companies in building charging infrastructure.

NIO announced at NIO Day late last year that the company plans to add 400 new battery swap stations in 2023.

However, on February 21, William Li, NIO's founder, chairman and CEO, said that plan was far from enough and upped it to 1,000 stations.

"We have set a new goal of adding 1,000 new battery swap stations in 2023, for a cumulative total of more than 2,300 stations by the end of 2023," Li said in an article posted to the NIO App last month.

Of the 1,000 new stations, about 400 will be located near highway service areas or highway entrances and exits. The other 600 or so will be deployed in urban areas.

The 36kr report today quotes an NIO employee as saying that in addition to its aggressive battery swap station goal, the company also plans to add 10,000 new charging piles this year.

Those additions include superchargers and destination charging piles, covering both domestic and foreign markets, according to the report.

As of March 10, NIO had 1,321 battery swap stations in China, as well as 2,383 charging stations offering 14,054 charging piles, according to data monitored by CnEVPost.

In addition to Li Auto and NIO, their local counterpart (NYSE: XPEV) is also fast-tracking the construction of energy replenishment facilities.

On August 15, 2022, XPeng showcased its S4 Supercharging technology and announced the completion of its first S4 supercharger in Guangzhou, where it is headquartered.

This S4 fast charging pile has a maximum power of 480 kW, a maximum current of 670 A and a peak charging power of 400 kW, enabling the vehicle to obtain a CLTC range of 210 km in 5 minutes.

Last September 21, XPeng said at the G9 launch that it expects to add more than 500 S4 supercharging stations in 2023 and that the number will exceed 2,000 by 2025.

The reason for these aggressive moves is that there are limited site resources suitable for building such facilities.

Most highway service areas in China don't have much power redundancy, and after considering NIO's battery swap stations and State Grid's charging facilities, there aren't really many suitable site resources left, 36kr quoted an unnamed car company source as saying.

($1 = 6.9606 RMB)

NIO reveals aggressive plan to add 1,000 swap stations in 2023