The fourth generation battery replacement station has arrived at your doorstep. Is it time to consider NIO?

When talking about Weilai, the first thing that seems to come to mind is "battery replacement". Obviously, battery swapping has become the most deeply tied to NIO, and it is also the most impressive label of the brand. It is also one of the core competitiveness that differentiates NIO from other brands.

Although it has been questioned, before you know it, NIO has 2,281 battery swap stations, and the battery swap station itself has been iterated to the fourth generation.

On June 13, NIO's first batch of two fourth-generation power swap stations in the world were officially launched in Guangzhou, Guangdong and Lu'an, Anhui. Among them, the first NIO fourth-generation power swap station in Guangzhou was specially selected in the "Xiguan Old Town" "The Liwan Flower Field happens to be near my home.

This site selection is also quite clever if you think about it carefully. It is located in the very large "Supercharger Plaza" in Fangcun area of ​​Liwan District. The power grid has already been expanded and there are free parking spaces for station construction. At the same time, it is adjacent to the residential area of ​​Guangzhou Iron and Steel New Town. Dozens of newly built properties in the area not only have extremely high occupancy rates, but also have a considerable number of NIO car owners, who have a lot of demand for charging and swapping.

To put it simply, the location of the first NIO fourth-generation station is completely in line with the right time, place, people and people.

Quantitative and qualitative changes in NIO’s fourth-generation power swap station

At first, I would have thought that the area occupied by the fourth-generation station would be the same as that of the third-generation station, but in fact, the overall layout design of the fourth-generation station will be more compact, so the total area required to build a NIO fourth-generation power swap station is, In fact, it will be smaller than the third generation station. According to the naked eye on site, the horizontal area of ​​the Fourth Generation Station is about 3 standard parking spaces.

A more compact battery swapping station actually means that the technology is more mature, which can subsequently reduce the cost of station construction.

Yang Chao, Assistant Vice President of NIO, told Aifaner that based on the experience accumulated from the first three generations of products and more than 2,400 operating stations, NIO has cut costs and increased revenue through design optimization, engineering efficiency improvement, energy efficiency improvement, comprehensive energy utilization, etc. The total cost of building a fourth-generation website is lower than that of its predecessors. The cost of building a fourth-generation website can be less than 1.5 million yuan, and the more it is built, the lower it will be. After all, one of his important tasks is to reduce the cost of building a website as much as possible.

As the saying goes, while reducing costs, you must also increase efficiency. Compared with third-generation sites, fourth-generation sites still have some quantitative changes in efficiency and qualitative changes in intelligence.

The first is the change in efficiency. The number of battery compartments in NIO’s fourth-generation station has been increased to 23, and it supports multi-specification battery packs and is compatible with 400V & 900V electrical platforms. It not only supports the batteries of NIO models, but also supports Ledo and is compatible with the battery swap alliance. Members' batteries.

As we saw at the opening ceremony of the world's first NIO fourth-generation station (Guangzhou Liwan Huadi Plaza), when the rolling shutter door of the first fourth-generation station slowly rose, the model displayed in front of everyone was not from NIO, but from NIO. It is the Ledo L60 that has not yet been officially released. It completed the first power swap demonstration of NIO’s fourth-generation station directly in front of everyone. Similarly, this was also the global debut of Ledo L60.

As Ledo's first model, the L60 can also complete battery swapping at NIO's fourth-generation battery swap station. The experience is basically the same as NIO's second-generation model, and it also supports automatic parking for battery swap operations. The first battery swap demonstration of the Ledo L60 in the public domain took a total of 2 minutes, 48 ​​seconds and 93 seconds, and the time was still within 3 minutes, which is indeed very fast.

In fact, NIO’s fourth-generation stations, like its third-generation stations, both adopt a three-station collaborative working mechanism. However, structural optimization and enhanced computing power also bring about an increase in power swap speed. Compared with third-generation stations, the fourth-generation stations’ The speed of battery swapping has been increased by 22%. The single battery swapping time of NIO's second-generation model has been shortened to less than 3 minutes, and the fastest is only 2 minutes and 24 seconds. The NIO ET7 was performing a battery swap demonstration after the Ledo L60. The time taken was only 2 minutes, 38 seconds and 55 seconds.

It can be seen that the battery replacement speed of the second-generation NIO model is still better than that of the Ledo L60.

The fourth-generation station has 23 built-in battery positions, and the maximum number of services in a single day has reached 480 times; the station adopts PCC4.0, a new generation of high-efficiency charging system developed by NIO, which benefits from the new generation of power control and distribution circuits and ring PDU architecture. Charging power distribution is more flexible, power capacity utilization is higher, and the battery is fully charged faster.

The associated supercharging pile has also been updated to a 640kW ultra-fast charging pile, with a maximum power of 640kW , compatible with 200-1000V voltage, and a maximum output current of 765A. If you want to fully charge NIO's 100kWh battery pack from 10% to 80%, you only need to 12 minutes. Its gun cable has also been optimized to a lighter liquid-cooled charging gun cable. The weight of the gun is 2.4kg , and one-handed operation is also possible.

In addition, the roof of the fourth-generation station is equipped with a 60m² photovoltaic system. A single fourth-generation station is expected to save nearly 18,000 kWh of electricity every year, making it a veritable integrated photovoltaic, storage, charging and replacement station.

On the basis of quantitative changes in efficiency, NIO’s fourth-generation stations have actually brought about qualitative changes in intelligence, giving them more intelligent capabilities.

As we all know, the color matching of NIO models is taken from the color of the sky, while the color of the NIO power swap station is taken from the color of the earth, so this time the fourth-generation power swap station chose the "Crystal Gray" exterior paint. The decoration is basically the same as the color tone of the previous first, second and third generation stations. In addition, the roof and box structure of the power swap station adopt an internal reverse flow design of rainwater, so that the appearance of the station is no longer so easy to get dirty.

Of course, the most intuitive "intelligent" upgrade is that all fourth-generation stations will use a new LED door lintel interactive screen . Everyone can see the real-time status information of the power swap station directly on the door lintel, and it will also be directly displayed during the power swap process. The battery swap status and timer information can not only inform the user of the progress of the battery swap, but also allow onlookers to intuitively feel the speed of the battery swap.

In terms of smart hardware, NIO’s fourth-generation battery swap station comes standard with 6 ultra-wide-angle lidars and 4 standard 8-megapixel cameras. It is also equipped with the “NIO supercomputing platform” and runs 4 Orin X chips. , the computing power is as high as 1016TOPS.

This set of quite luxurious car-grade hardware configurations can be picked up directly from the car. NIO’s fourth-generation battery swap station will support functions such as one-click automatic battery swapping and autonomous battery swapping away from the car.

The fourth-generation station, like the third-generation station, is an unattended setting. As long as you drive the vehicle into the "box" at the entrance of the battery swap station, you can click on the "one-click battery swap" option on the vehicle's central control screen. Then the vehicle will park itself into the power swap station, the wheels will be stuck in the V-shaped groove of the power swap station, and then the power swap station will automatically complete the battery swap for the vehicle.

During the entire process, the vehicle's occupants do not need to get out of the car, and the vehicle does not need to be completely lifted. The battery swap can be completed in about 3 minutes.

Furthermore, what more people are paying attention to is actually the "autonomous battery swapping without vehicle" function first launched in the fourth generation station.

NIO had already previewed this feature as early as April this year, with the goal of realizing a full-process self-service battery swap. After the battery swap station is unattended, the owner does not need to sit in the car.

After the user comes to the battery swap station, he only needs to place the battery swap order, and then park the car in the parking space belonging to the battery swap station (usually located opposite the battery swap station). The car owner can get off the car and take a break, such as buying a cup of coffee or Go to the bathroom.

Vehicles parked in their parking spaces will silently queue up to wait for the vehicle in front to swap batteries, obey the instructions of the battery swap station, and then drive into the battery swap station independently to perform automatic battery swap operations.

After the battery swap is completed, the vehicle will automatically drive out of the battery swap station and continue to park in its parking space, waiting for the car owner to come and pick up the car.

To be honest, the entire unattended process looks quite smooth, and it is more in line with our imagination of the energy replenishment scenario of electric vehicles after the popularity of autonomous driving in the future. However, at this moment, NIO’s fourth-generation power swap station has not yet opened this function to the outside world, and it is not expected to be officially opened until later in 2024.

Yang Chao said that in addition to the automatic parking function when leaving the car, which is a standard feature of the fourth-generation stations, NIO will also transform some eligible NIO third-generation power swap stations , and will also provide "off-car battery swapping" in the future. Ability.

Therefore, if you want to distinguish between third-generation stations and fourth-generation stations, in addition to the LED lintel in appearance, the "horn" of the lidar should be the other most obvious feature of the fourth-generation stations.

But in fact, most of NIO’s models already have lidar capabilities, so who is this “horn” prepared for?

The answer is the power swap alliance led by NIO.

NIO’s fourth-generation station is open to other brands in the power swap alliance

For a long time, I am afraid that more than half of the controversy about NIO is about "power swapping."

Therefore, both Li Bin, the founder of NIO, and Yang Chao, who is still introducing the fourth-generation station to the Dongqian Automobile Association, inevitably mention and explain the value of battery swap again and again, and then emphasize that NIO’s battery swap network has gone through many iterations. Later advanced.

It can be said that NIO Power is NIO’s deepest moat. The increasing number of power swaps on NIO Energy’s official website page also makes the value of NIO’s power swaps more and more clear.

Li Bin has repeatedly compared the power swap network to Internet cloud service infrastructure, making it clear that NIO's power swap network and NIO Energy have also followed a path of infrastructure first, internal closed loop, full-scenario verification, and openness to the outside world.

After more than five years of development, NIO's power swap network and NIO Energy Cloud have accumulated rich experience in R&D, construction, and operation, and NIO's power swap business is ready to be opened to the industry.

Since November 2023, NIO has cooperated with Changan Automobile, Geely Holding, Jiangxi Automobile Group, Chery Automobile, Anhui Energy Group, Anhui Traffic Control Group, China Southern Power Grid Energy Storage Technology, Lotus, Guangzhou Automobile Group and other companies have reached strategic cooperation in charging and swapping.

Therefore, compared with the first three generations of power swap stations, NIO’s fourth-generation power swap station not only uses more batteries to improve battery swap efficiency, but also focuses on compatibility upgrades and will support more models of other brands besides NIO. Replace the battery.

If we share it with other car companies, we cannot expect that all the models built by the car companies can meet the same computing power and algorithms as ours (Nio). Moreover, everything in the power swap station itself needs to be calibrated, so in the future, as long as the car can communicate with our power swap station, then our power swap station can convey some instructions according to standardization and complete all paths through the computing power of the power swap station. Planning and guiding the work, calling the car to the battery swap station for battery swap , this provides a possibility for us to share the battery swap scenario in the future.

In short, the computing power and lidar hardware of NIO’s fourth-generation power swap station, which may seem a bit redundant at present, exist to be compatible with more models. The station’s computing power and hardware are directly used to control the vehicle. machine .

It is foreseeable that in the future, the models in the power swap alliance will be able to more easily realize intelligent functional experiences such as independent power swaps.

At present, the first "other brand" that supports battery swapping is the Ledo L60. With the goal of consistent compatibility, the Ledo L60 that is compatible with the NT3.0 platform is a matter of first release and a matter of course.

At the same time, in order to be compatible with more brands and models of different sizes, a lot of flexible mechanical configurations have been made inside the fourth-generation battery swap station, including the vehicle fixing mechanism and the inside of the battery compartment, which have been adjusted accordingly. Even though the fourth-generation station looks more compact, it is actually compatible with more sizes of models and more sizes of batteries.

When Yang Chao also explained the compatibility of fourth-generation stations, he also mentioned that the power swap alliance is not NIO’s power swap alliance :

We have never thought that this is a "NIO" power exchange alliance. It is actually an industry alliance, but NIO plays a role as a pioneer or evangelist in it , because we still need it. I kept explaining to everyone the value of charging and swapping to car companies, the industry and users.

After shared power exchange, it is not only to reduce costs, increase market share and accelerate deployment, but more importantly, to achieve an open and win-win ecosystem. Battery swapping stations are asset-heavy infrastructure. Only by supporting more car models can the utilization rate keep up quickly. The development of battery swapping will be healthier and longer-lasting, and consumers will understand the benefits of pure electric vehicles and battery swapping for energy replenishment. value.

Fortunately, more and more people understand the value of the battery swap model, and they continue to receive support from the policy level. On January 11 this year, Anhui Energy Group, Anhui Traffic Control Group and NIO reached a strategic cooperation to support Zhongan Energy in building 1,000 integrated storage, charging and swapping stations , create an open and shared storage, charging and swapping energy network, and cooperate to build high-speed Effective battery asset management and operation system.

According to NIO’s plan, the target of adding 1,000 battery swap stations this year is 800 of which will be fourth-generation stations. In first-tier cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where land is at a premium, NIO will also speed up the construction of new power stations in central areas of old cities. The layout of the battery swap station.

It is not difficult to see that with the popularity of fourth-generation stations, NIO’s explanation costs for charging and replacing batteries will become less and less.

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