To one NIO executive, the move by its battery supplier CATL to launch the battery swap brand EVOGO is an endorsement of the electric vehicle maker’s unique business model.
NIO has been almost alone in its strategy of separating vehicle body and battery and allowing battery rentals for six years, the company’s vice president Shen Fei said on Weibo today, adding that the strategy has recently gained not only more attention and recognition, but also peers.
“Sinopec, CATL, they’re all on board, which is great,” he said.
CATL is also a partner in the battery asset company that NIO set up in 2020, and now it’s entering the battery swap space itself, which will further drive the model, Shen said.
Shen’s reference to battery asset company refers to Wuhan Weineng, or Mirattery, which was founded on August 18, 2020, with Shen as legal representative and chairman.
It was established with a registered capital of RMB 800 million by CATL, NIO, Guotai Junan and Hubei Science Technology Investment, each of whom initially held a 25 percent stake.
After the introduction of new financing, the company’s shareholding structure has changed and NIO is now the largest shareholder.
NIO currently holds a 19.8 percent stake in Mirattery and CATL holds a 10.9 percent stake, according to data provider Qichacha.
In August 2020, NIO launched its BaaS (Battery as a Service) battery rental business, with Mirattery as the manager of the battery assets.
The BaaS business allows users to purchase NIO vehicles without buying a battery, thereby reducing the cost of the vehicle at the time of purchase by at least RMB 70,000. But instead of the owner owning the battery, Mirattery will hold the ownership to the battery.
On December 15, Mirattery said it already has more than 4 GWh of battery assets under management, which is 100 times the 0.04 GWh it had in September 2020, the second month of the company’s existence.
CATL officially launched its battery swap brand EVOGO yesterday, offering a solution consisting of battery blocks, fast battery swap stations, and an app.
The battery blocks, called Choco-SEB (swapping electric block) by CATL, are specially developed for mass production to enable shared battery swapping.
Later, Sina Tech quoted NIO as saying that the main competition facing EV companies is still fuel vehicle makers, and that all innovations and business models that facilitate easy access and travel for EV owners are good news for all EV brands.
This article was first published by Phate Zhang on CnEVPost, a website focusing on new energy vehicle news from China.