Shell and Nio open first joint swapping station

In Harmelen, the Netherlands, Shell and Nio have inaugurated their first jointly deployed swapping station. This means the Chinese EV maker network now grows to 17 stations, spread over Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. As the roll-out plan lags, the companies hope to scale up fast.

Nio follows its path with swapping stations, which minimize downtime to five minutes as their EVs receive a fresh battery pack through an automated procedure in dedicated boxes. Fisker has claimed to join the swap strategy, but so far, it’s a propriety take on EV charging exclusively by Nio.

Aiming for 100

Last month, Nio CEO William Li admitted that his company was far behind schedule on its swapping network in Europe. The company planned twenty of them by the end of last year but landed on 13.

The company announced a strategic partnership with Shell two years ago to leverage the roll-out. Teaming up with a partner facilitates the real-estate factor and planning permissions for these swapping stations, which is a complex and costly procedure. The station in Harmelen is the first fruit of the partnerships, while both aim to reach a network of hundred co-branded stations in the short run. But these targets depend on commercial success.

Modern mobility needs

The deal between Nio and Shell also integrates the Recharge functionalities from the oil juggernaut, which searches to elevate its business to modern mobility needs. This means Nio customers can enjoy the benefits of Shell’s charging card and access the fast-charging network from the company at preferential rates.

The importance of Nio’s swapping model for its business case can be compared to Tesla’s Supercharging network in the early days of the brand’s commercial operations. As a USP, getting Nio up and going in Europe is critical. The brand aims to have seventy stations ready by the end of the year, thanks to the help from Shell. However, William Li set his hopes higher and uttered his wish to have one hundred deployed. In the longer run, Nio plans on 1 000 stations outside China by 2025. Mainly in Europe, the only region where the models are sold apart from the domestic market.

Less than five minutes

The third-generation versions of Nio’s stations can shorten the swapping time to four minutes and forty seconds while remaining unmanned. There are roughly a thousand of these stations active in China.

Partnerships for the roll-out of charging services are far from uncommon. For example, in the United States, Volvo teamed up with Starbucks and Mercedes with Chargepoint, while in Belgium, the government-backed start-up Sparki similarly works with fuel vendors Esso and Maes.


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