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NIO Has a Plan to End the Anxiety Over Charging Electric Vehicles

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NIO, the Chinese electric-vehicle maker, is in talks to license its battery swapping technology, according to the Financial Times.

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Electric-vehicle sales are growing, which means so are questions about charging and range. Currently, it takes longer to charge an electric car than to fill up a traditional vehicle.

Chinese EV maker


NIO

(ticker: NIO) has a plan to change that.

NIO is in talks to license its battery swapping technology to other auto makers in Europe, according to the Financial Times. That means an European electric car could have a NIO battery pack powering the vehicle.

NIO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

EV maker as automotive technology and parts supplier is a relatively new idea. NIO has a history of thinking outside the box though. For starters, it’s the only major EV maker to commercialize battery swapping.

NIO offers its drivers a couple of ways to recharge. A driver can plug the car in, much like any other EV. Drivers can also speed up the process by driving into a swap station where the battery pack will be unscrewed and replaced with a fully charged one.

Battery swapping is one way to address concerns about lengthy recharging stops on road trips. Charge time, though, is improving with new charging technology. A


Tesla

(TSLA) at a Tesla supercharging station can get about 150 miles of range in under 20 minutes.

Swapping is also a way to address concerns over EV-range anxiety, or the fear drivers won’t have a charging option far away from home when they have little juice left. More swapping stations is like adding more gas stations along the road.

NIO said it has 866 battery swapping stations in China on its fourth-quarter earnings conference call. The company has completed more than 7.6 million battery swaps.

NIO has also pioneered selling the car without the battery. EVs are still more expensive than traditional automobiles. NIO will sell a vehicle at a lower price and then add a monthly charge for batteries and recharging. The monthly cost for the battery and some swaps turns out to be similar to a monthly gas bill for a traditional car.

Licensing the technology in Europe would presumably help NIO jump start its business outside of China. NIO vehicles are on sale in Norway, the first country it sold vehicles in outside of China.

Investors appear intrigued by the news. NIO stock was up about 1.1% in premarket trading.

S&P 500
and

Dow Jones Industrial Average
futures both fell about 0.3%.

Coming into Tuesday trading, NIO stock is down about 25% year to date. Rising interest rates, inflation and renewed concerns about U.S. stock market delisting of Chinese stocks have sapped some investors’ enthusiasm for NIO stock and shares of its Chinese EV peers.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

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