Electronic Enthusiasts Network reported (text / Mo Tingting) As we all know, Weilai has played a different “trump card” in the new car-making force – the battery swap mode. Li Bin once said, “Swapping power stations is the core barrier for Weilai to improve user experience.” In 2020, Weilai will release the battery rental service BaaS. “Buying Weilai in the BaaS model will reduce the car price by 70,000 yuan, and the monthly battery rental service fee will start from 980 yuan”, which sounds very tempting.

Relying on the power exchange station, NIO has built a moat of its own. Based on the power exchange model, NIO has played with the business model of power batteries. Throughout this series of layouts, all of them revolve around power batteries, so it can be said that power batteries are one of the most important core competitiveness of NIO.

In addition to the model around battery services, there is news in the industry that NIO will develop its own 4680 battery. As soon as the news came out, it aroused widespread concern in the industry. If NIO succeeds in researching batteries, it will fully grasp the important industrial chain link of power batteries after realizing self-supplied batteries, improve core competitiveness, and thus strengthen the ecological moat of batteries.

In June this year, Li Bin mentioned in the first quarter earnings conference call that Weilai has formed a battery-related team of more than 400 people. Another public information stated that Weilai will establish nearly 31 R&D laboratories, 1 lithium-ion battery cell trial production line, and 1 battery pack pack line in Shanghai for the R&D battery project, with an estimated investment of 218.5 million yuan. According to the plan, NIO will launch a new 800V high-voltage platform battery pack in 2024 and use it in lower-positioned sub-brands.

Why did Weilai choose to develop its own battery, is it learning from BYD or Tesla? Perhaps we can look at the progress of NIO’s car sales and power-swap model.

According to public data, in the first half of 2022, Xiaopeng, Nezha, and Ideal are the top three new car-making forces, the fourth is Leaprun, and Weilai is the fifth. Judging from the delivery volume, Weilai only delivered 50,827 vehicles in the first half of the year, 18,156 vehicles less than the 68,983 vehicles delivered by Xiaopeng, the first place. Compared with last year’s results, NIO’s performance in the first half of the year really surprised most people. The former “Wei Xiaoli”, NIO retreated to the last place, and Nezha and Leap ran quickly won the favor of consumers.

NIO’s sales in the first half of this year were lower than expected, which has a lot to do with its supply chain, vehicle production, and the epidemic. In the supply chain, people in the automotive industry have repeatedly publicly stated that they are “suffering from the battery” – suffering from the high price of battery raw materials. Volkswagen China, Geely, Great Wall Motors and other car companies have expressed that they have invested in power battery companies or self-developed power batteries, as is Weilai.

The most successful case of self-developed batteries by car manufacturers is BYD. BYD’s blade batteries have improved the bargaining power of BYD Auto, and its high-performance product strength has created a number of star models. However, whether NIO can become BYD is another matter. The most important thing is its financial strength. “In the past period of time, our investment in battery research and development has increased significantly,” Li Bin said.

It should be noted that it is rumored in the industry that Weilai wants to make mobile phones across the border. How much chance this relatively saturated market can bring to Weilai, a latecomer, and how much money Weilai needs to invest in order to get a return, all of which are unknown. However, compared with the development of smartphones, self-developed and self-made power batteries are more important to NIO.

Just in July this year, NIO shared some achievements at NIOPowerDay2022: A total of 1,011 battery swap stations and 1,681 charging stations have been built nationwide, and more than 520,000 third-party charging piles have been connected, providing users with more than 10 million times in total. Battery replacement service and over 820,000 one-click power-on services.

Whether the battery replacement service can achieve the maximum value depends on the quantity. If the number is insufficient, the car owner needs to queue up to replace the battery, which will naturally reduce the consumer experience. When Weilai announced the implementation of the power exchange service in 2017, it mentioned that it plans to deploy automatic power exchange stations with a service radius of 3 kilometers. That is to say, Weilai needs to build more power exchange stations, and also prepare enough power batteries for replacement.

It is necessary for Wei to develop and manufacture batteries by itself, and it is an important part of its smart car track. However, compared with power battery companies, Weilai also has to take more risks. In addition, another automaker, Tesla, is also developing its own 4680 batteries and has produced more than 1 million of them. Compared with Weilai, Tesla’s smart factory has obvious advantages, and its strong technical team will allow Tesla to run faster on the self-developed power battery track. In contrast, whether NIO’s self-developed battery project can go smoothly as expected, and whether it can break through the technical bottleneck and get on the car smoothly, everything is a test.

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