IDTechEX sees battery swapping as winner in 2- and 3-wheeler markets of Asia-Pacific


Battery-swapping technology aims to address the shortcomings of conductive fast-charging. These include long dwell times, high power demand from the grid, availability and reliability issues, and the need for end-users to deal with heavy cables, dirty connectors, and buggy user interfaces.

In a new report, “Battery Swapping for Electric Vehicles 2022-2032: Technology, Players and Forecasts”, market research firm IDTechEx concludes that battery-swapping technology currently appears to be a winner in the two- and three-wheeler markets of the Asia-Pacific regions.

Personal cars and taxi fleets in China are now adopting this technology as well with ambitious targets set by companies for rolling out their own swap station networks. China-based Nio, for example, recently announced the total number of its Power Swap stations has reached 1,000. NIO users have completed more than 10 million battery swaps, with the daily average exceeding 30,000 swaps.


Nio Power Swap stations

The heavy duty segment is also running swapping trials, which are largely supported by local governments.

Although IDTechEx believes battery-swapping remains unlikely to thrive in the US, many Chinese OEMs are now entering the European market. It could be very likely that these OEMs introduce swapping as an alternate recharging strategy there. However, the deployment of swap stations will remain very low unless major support or interest is shown by consumers, OEMs, and government bodies.


IDTechEx research suggests that on average, decoupling the cost of the battery from the electric vehicle can reduce the purchase price of EVs by 20%.

Besides easily upgrading battery technology, reducing the purchase price of EVs (by decoupling the cost of the battery from the EV), and massively decreasing charging times, it is also important to note that the battery swapping stations themselves can become independent energy storage facilities with grid-balancing ability, IDTechEx said.

Two- and three-wheelers.
Battery swapping is viewed as an ideal solution for the booming electric two- and three-wheeler segment due to the self-service business model which requires low capital investment. The swap stations in this segment resemble a vending machine, take up a small footprint, and require no robotic machinery as compared to those needed for cars or trucks.

Commercial fleets. The high utilization of commercial fleets in this segment means that swapping can directly boost revenue. There’s no downtime, no waiting, no energy spikes, and no need to swipe a card or enter a pin. It only takes a few seconds to swap and go.

Fleet vehicles with high daily mileage are more suitable for battery swapping because they are more sensitive to downtime costs. Swapping stations offer a much quicker turnaround time for low state-of-charge EVs. Fleet vehicles are also usually a single model. This eliminates the difficulty of the unification of different battery connection/locking mechanisms between various EV manufacturers and promotes the use of shared swap stations as shown by BAIC BJEV and Aulton’s partnership in China.

Heavy-duty sector. IDTechEx considers heavy duty trucks and buses along with e-construction machinery to be particularly suitable for battery swapping technology because their fixed operating pattern requires modest downtimes which justifies the cost of installing battery swap stations.

The commercial heavy duty segment includes buses, trucks, and construction machinery. Almost all the major Chinese heavy truck manufacturers have now launched a battery-swapping model for their battery electric trucks, including FAW, CAMC, Dongfeng, JMC, Shanxi Automobile, and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). IDTechEx forecasts that swap capable new-energy/electric heavy trucks (EHTs) sales will capture more than 30% market share of total pure electric heavy trucks sales in China by the end of 2022.

The Korean government has proposed the use of ‘quick charger machines’ (QCM)—a machine installed in a bus station that transforms an eligible bus station into a battery swapping station. This involves the use of cranes mounted on top of the station that carries out a swap from buses that use top-mounted batteries while it waits for passengers.


Operational concept of a bus station with Quick Charger Machine (QCM). Moon et al.

Side-to-side battery swapping in buses is also being carried out successfully in China. The swapping is done from either side using robotic arms on swapping tracks that can screw or unscrew the battery packs from the bus. Sun Mobility in India has also launched its ‘Quick Interchange Station’ that facilitates the swapping, charging, and maintenance of battery packs for electric buses.


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