Geely, Changan, GAC, Chery, FAW... Car companies are starting to switch over


Hao Wenli


Change the power. You're not fighting alone.


Recently, after joining the NIO power Exchange Alliance with GAC Group, Changan Automobile, Geely Holding, Chery Automobile, Jiangqi Group, Lotus and other car companies, China FAW Group will also cooperate strategically with NIO. Previously, Li Bin, the founder of NIO, said that the company has seven car companies including NIO, and there will be more brands to join in the future.


Never thought to compete to enter the game, recently, why the major car companies began to change the power mode?


Suddenly the fire, the power change mode ushered in the "splashy wealth"


Nio has always adhered to the power change mode. As of May 20, NIO has laid out 2,420 replacement power stations in the country, becoming the car brand with the most replacement power stations in China. However, since the end of last year, Weilai's circle of electric friends suddenly began to expand.


The first to enter the circle is Chang 'an. In November last year, Changan Nio officially announced cooperation, and the two car companies will work together to develop convertible models, and the first shared battery pack model will be listed in 2025. The cooperation between the two parties includes: battery standard, network construction, model research and development, and asset management mechanism.


Subsequently, NIO quickly joined hands with Geely, and the two sides signed a strategic cooperation agreement on power replacement, which will carry out comprehensive cooperation in many fields such as battery replacement standard, power replacement technology, power replacement service network construction and operation, power replacement model research and development and customization, and battery asset management and operation.


The national team of central enterprises and private enterprise giants successively joined the WEilai power change system, further boosting the industry's confidence in the power change model. Then, the "power change alliance" led by NIO expanded rapidly, and not only Chery Automobile, Jiangqi Group, Lotus and other car companies successively joined, including Waneng Group, Shell, State Grid Suzhou Power Supply Company, Anhui Traffic Control Group, Southern Grid energy storage and other industry chain related enterprises have also entered.


In addition to the "power change alliance" of NIO, other power change circles are also forming. On May 16, GAC Group announced that GAC EAN signed a cooperation framework agreement with Ningde Times and Times electric Service in GAC Center, and the three parties will carry out in-depth cooperation in the development of electric models, the development, production and circulation of electric blocks, vehicle and battery data management, vehicle quality assurance after-sales service and other fields.


Previously, the industry has always been controversial about the power replacement model, mainly because the power replacement requires a large amount of early infrastructure and medium-term operational investment. Many industry insiders believe that the high cost of the asset-heavy operation attribute of the power change model is the "culprit" that drags down NiO's failure to achieve profitability.


Wen Yuhua, chief operating officer of Zexin Energy Technology Co., LTD., believes that more and more car companies have joined the "power change alliance", which makes the concept of power change gradually known to the outside world, whether it is the power change mode itself or the new energy automobile industry, it is good news.


It is better to stand on the shoulders of giants than to fight alone


How does the once unpromising power change mode expand the circle of friends?


Li Jinyong, vice president of the Auto Dealer Chamber of Commerce of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and chairman of the new energy Vehicle Committee, analyzed that from the long-term trend of technological development, the battery life will be longer and longer, and the number of recycling will be more and more. If the battery life is 20 years and the frequency of use reaches 5,000 to 10,000 times, the rental battery will become very cheap, and the car can no longer buy the battery, but lease the battery like using a financial product, and the cost of buying the car will be greatly reduced.


Under this logic, the power transfer mode has the basis for large-scale application. Power replacement is a business model with high investment and return, and car companies need to layout in advance. However, in fact, although the power change mode can effectively alleviate mileage anxiety and play a great supporting role for the brand of NiO, a company insists on the power change mode is difficult to achieve profit, it can be seen that standardized batteries and large-scale users are the basis for the profit of the power change mode.


Indeed, the construction cost of WEilai's generation replacement power station is about 3 million yuan, the cost of the second generation replacement power station is about 2 million yuan, and the cost of the third generation replacement power station is about 1.5 million yuan. Superimposed labor costs, maintenance costs, etc., Weilai power station is a huge cost.


Shen Fei, senior vice president of NIO, once revealed that the breakeven line of NIO changing power station is about 50 to 60 units a day, and the current average daily volume of NIO changing power station is 35 to 36 units, requiring more car brands to join to reduce losses.


"A single brand layout power change mode is very tired, especially for brands that have not yet entered a virtuous cycle of profit, and increasing the power change such a blood loss project will bring pressure to the long-term development of enterprises." One goes fast alone, many go far. More car companies participate in jointly creating a power change ecology, in order to achieve standardization and scale as soon as possible, and the power change model will have a better future." Li Jinyong said.


Li Jinyong further pointed out that the major car companies want to enter the bureau to change electricity, but fighting alone is not the best path, NIO has accumulated rich experience in this field, and cooperation with NIO is equivalent to enjoying the results of previous exploration, standing on the "giant shoulder". Feng Xingya has said that if GAC wants to promote the scale of the power station by itself, it needs to experience a process of 7 to 8 years like WEilai, and the time cost is very high.


The debate remains. Let the bullets fly for a while


In this way, for the prospects of the power model and the realization path, the major car companies have reached an agreement in thought, and the key to the next step is how to maintain consistency in action. On the other side of the coin, the more companies in the alliance, the more difficult it is to reach an agreement, says Mr Wen.


Wen Yuhua further analysis, car companies are now widely optimistic about the power change mode, is that the power change will become a selling point to attract consumers. If the power Exchange Alliance can launch a universal battery pack in 2 to 3 years, a number of car companies use different models of this battery pack, which will break the ceiling of the power exchange model.


It is worth noting that WEilai is not desperate to change the power mode. Up to now, WEilai has built 2,260 supercharging stations, with 10,334 supercharged piles; Highway charging stations 407, charging pile 1638; There are 1,590 destination charging stations, 12,166 charging piles, and 1,026,731 third-party charging piles.


Wen Yuhua believes that the major car companies are insisting on the charging route while increasing the power change route, and did not give up the charging route, so the role must be positive for users. The first step in the development of the power change model is to achieve product standardization, and the second step is to explore the sustainability of the business model.


At present, the construction of charging stations has almost become a red sea, whether it is ordinary fast charge or the future ultra-fast charge, the return on investment is difficult to be guaranteed. If the power change user scale is considerable, the commercial value of the power change model gradually highlights, really brings a certain increase in sales for the car companies, and realizes the organic synergy of the power change network and vehicle sales, it will attract more capital to enter, "then the snowball will roll bigger and bigger."


Of course, although car companies and battery giants have joined, the controversy over the power change model still exists. Byd Chairman Wang Chuanfu has pointed out that there are many problems in the power change technology, in addition to the investment of the power change station is too large, the vehicle design, battery pack structure safety need to be redesigned; Parts such as battery ports are worn after long-term power replacement, which may cause safety problems. He Xiaopeng, chairman of Xiaopeng Automobile, said that when the WEilai power change station exceeds 5,000, Xiaopeng will seriously consider joining the ranks of power change.


In addition, Wen Yuhua also pointed out that if the car enterprise power exchange alliance reaches a consensus on the standardization of a certain battery pack and puts it into action, then how can the multi-brand power exchange models developed based on the same battery pack form a differentiated market positioning? Although the battery standardization can enjoy the "service dividend" of the power station, it also weakens the difference of the "cost performance" of the product to a large extent, and the pros and cons are difficult to comment, "it is better to let the bullet fly for a while."


Originally published by China Automotive News, May 22, 2024