Recently, the Dutch market welcomed a new car brand called NIO, which has joined forces with ARN, the national network of car dismantling companies in the Netherlands, for the collection and recycling of end-of-life batteries. During the opening ceremony of NIO’s first battery-swapping station in Tilburg, General Manager Ruben Keuter emphasized their commitment to the complete life cycle of their product.
NIO drivers in the Netherlands can now conveniently exchange their empty automotive batteries for fully charged ones at the power-swap station. The entire process, from the car’s arrival to the swapping of the battery, takes just five minutes. The swapping process is fully automated and hassle-free. The driver parks the car within the designated lines, and the vehicle is autonomously reversed into the swapping installation. Once in place, the car is lifted up, and robotic mechanisms loosen the 10 screws securing the battery pack, allowing for its replacement. After installing the new battery pack and reactivating the onboard electronics, the car is automatically driven back out. This quick and seamless process saves time compared to conventional refueling, enabling drivers to remain in their cars and attend to other tasks.
NIO’s Head of Power, Daniel de Groot, reveals that over 14 million battery swaps have already taken place worldwide. Since the brand’s inception in 2018, NIO has established 1,200 swapping stations globally. Looking ahead, NIO has ambitious plans to introduce 120 power-swap stations across Europe next year. Apeldoorn will be the next city to host a swapping station, followed by locations in The Hague, Harmelen, and Utrecht. Keuter emphasizes that these power-swap stations are part of NIO’s comprehensive charging network, which includes home charging (11 kW), public charging (10 to 80 percent in 30 minutes), and the option to swap batteries at NIO stations. Each battery swap occurs under optimal conditions and temperature, with the quality of every swapped battery thoroughly checked. This stringent process ensures that any potential issues are identified promptly. For the rare instances where a battery is deemed faulty, NIO has its own repair center to address the matter, thereby extending the overall battery lifespan.
NIO retains ownership of the drive batteries leased to customers, emphasizing the importance of maintaining their batteries in excellent condition. With over 270,000 cars sold globally, NIO’s batteries represent a significant asset for the company. Through battery swapping, multiple drivers can utilize the same battery, offering greater efficiency and resource utilization. Moreover, the batteries at the swapping stations contribute to the stability of the electricity grid. During periods of energy surplus, such as when there is an excess of solar and wind energy, these batteries act as buffers by storing the excess energy. Additionally, compared to regular charging stations, battery-swapping stations make efficient use of space. In a 24-hour period, up to 312 cars can receive fresh battery packs, making them particularly advantageous in space-constrained urban environments.
Keuter concludes by acknowledging the well-organized system for recycling end-of-life cars and car batteries in the Netherlands. NIO’s collaboration with ARN ensures the collection and recycling of their drive batteries at acceptable costs without compromising quality. However, NIO strives to prolong the recycling moment for as long as possible by closely monitoring the quality of batteries throughout their useful life and taking measures to extend their lifespan.