A business associate of mine was exploring the possibility of talking to NIO and taking it overseas. As you know, NIO (蔚来) is the EV brand from China whose stock prices have taken the market by storm in recent months. The brand offers a unique proposition of a battery swap to overcome range anxiety. In parts of China, NIO has quite an extensive network of battery swapping facilities, especially so in Shanghai. The whole process of battery swapping takes 3 minutes. There is also the life time guarantee of battery swap services for direct buyers.
A concept like this, I told my associate, could be difficult to export because the overseas market to take it too must have or potentially have the battery charging infrastructure. If this cannot be done, then the value proposition of NIO is negated and it would be difficult for the brand to penetrate the market. At this point of time, most countries are still struggling with establishing a network of charging stations, let alone to develop a fully functioning battery swapping network.
Due to the costs of EVs (as a result of the battery costs), EV manufacturers still position the EVs to the higher end of the market. Mostly, the EVs sell themselves as a second car of the family, in order not to thread the range anxiety line. To justify the price range for a car with fairly basic features, the EVs load themselves with software and connectivity and offer privileges and services like that offered by NIO. If we take away these privileges (like battery swapping), we need to find strong arguments for the purchase of NIO as compared to internal combustion cars.
My business associate then asked me if we could then explore EVs that target the lower end of the market and therefore presumably have lower expectations, brands like XPeng and BYD. Well, first of all, these cars are also not cheap when compared with similar range of internal combustion (ICE) cars. Moreover, due to the current low volume, these EV manufacturers do not plan for right hand drive vehicles in the near future.
We are still in the process of exploring, and whenever there are interesting developments, we will keep you updated.