Battery swapping was once considered unsustainable option for charging EV’s, but the world’s largest battery supplier – CATL is now launching an entire business around it. The company is called Evogo and they claim they can do a battery swap in around a minute.
Currently Nio is the only automaker that offers a seamless battery swapping option – offering a full long-range battery swap in about five minutes. At present it’s mostly in China, but right now there’s a pilot project going on in Norway. They announced a plan to have 4,000 swapping stations globally by 2025.
Most EV owners tend to buy a vehicle with the bigger battery in order eliminate range anxiety, but only 10-20% of the total capacity of the battery is needed for daily use. Most people only travel 20-50 kilometres per day to work. According to CATL/ Evogo: “The EV buyers have paid a high sunk cost, for a power capacity that is rarely needed.”…and it’s a scheme that will allow lower-priced EVs, and more of them.
The Evogo remedy will revolve around “an innovative modular battery swap solution” that uses standardized battery blocks and has “high compatibility with vehicle models.” In the form of a new bar-like battery – nicknamed Choco-SEB, which is designed around the idea of battery sharing
CATL says each 26.5-kwh block can enable a driving range of about 200 km (124 miles). And the concept is that you may only need one of these blocks for daily commuting, while three of them will combine for a long-range battery – with customers swapping just one battery or all three, as they need them. Customers could potentially lease one block with the vehicle, but rent additional blocks as-needed for a long trips.
It’s a great idea – think of all the weight you’d save while driving around with one battery block versus three – you’d theoretically get a longer range for most of your short drives.
One of the biggest issues for battery swapping right now is the compatibility and the array of different cell formats, packaging methods, and cooling strategies from each of the different manufactures’. They can’t all agree on a standard plug, how can they possibly agree in their batteries?
Well CATL says that the swapping system is compatible “with 80% of global BEV platform-based vehicle models available on the market, and all BEV platform-based models to be released in the next three years globally” (that would include Tesla). The new swap-friendly packs contains a wireless battery management system (BMS) and has no parts on the exterior of the pack, other than the high-voltage terminals. It’s also compatible with existing on-board chargers as well as home charging.
The Evogo swapping station will take up the space of about three parking spaces – according to the company (about the same size as the Nio swapping station), and will have 48 of the battery blocks in stock. A single block battery will swap in just one minute. The system is also designed to be compatibility with logistics and delivery vehicles – so the swapping stations have been designed around this too.
An Evogo app will link customers with the swapping service, so that a battery block can be ready to swap out while the customer is in transit, thereby minimizing wait/swap time.
According to the company, Evogo will initially be launched in 10 cities with more information and details coming soon.
Copyright © 2022 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Evogo
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