Battery leasing has often been proposed as a way to bring down the up-front cost of an EV, and to allay consumers’ fears about battery degradation. Chinese EV-maker NIO has embraced this concept, and launched Battery as a Service (BaaS) for customers in China.
NIO BaaS users can purchase a car without owning the battery, which reduces the up-front cost by some RMB 70,000 (around $10,000). Leasing a 70 kWh battery pack costs RMB 980 ($142) per month, plus an additional fee for the optional Worry-Free Service Plan.
BaaS customers have the option to upgrade to a newer battery, or to change battery capacity depending on their needs. To enable this flexibility, NIO has embraced battery swapping, a technology that other automakers, including Tesla and the ill-fated Better Place, have tried and abandoned. NIO introduced its Power Swap system in December 2017, and now boasts a network of 143 battery swap stations in China. The company says it has completed over 800,000 swaps.
China’s latest EV policy encourages battery swapping technology—EVs costing over RMB 300,000 are now eligible for subsidies only if they have the capability of battery swapping.