China is at the forefront when it comes to electric cars. It may not be the glamorous benchmark that Tesla is, but in absolute terms it is the market where the most vehicles of this type are sold and where more manufacturers offer them. Thus, the adoption of these cars has caused a market for special services to flourish in the Asian country, such as stations where battery changes are made in a matter of minutes.
These types of stations are not service centers where you replace a damaged battery or that no longer has the same performance with a new one, but rather a place where you change a discharged battery for a charged one. The service is aimed mainly at taxi drivers, a union in which time is money.
The following video, made by the Chinese news network CGTN, talks about this service. According to the testimonies of several taxi drivers, in a day of work they usually recharge the battery of their cars up to two times, with an average recharge time of an hour and a half. The waiting time is impractical for them, so in cities like Beijing, battery change stations are a very useful service, since replacing a socket takes between three and five minutes.
According to CGTN, as of June 2020, in China there are 452 battery exchange stations; 40 percent are located in Beijing, the capital.
On Twitter, some journalists also highlight the usefulness of this service, which, needless to say, is non-existent in countries such as the United States, Norway or Iceland, where there is also a mature market for electric cars.
My taxi in Hebei ski country just pulled off for two-minute battery change by robot. A fresh battery lasts 150km in winter, says driver. He pays 45yuan ($ 7) for a fresh battery. Impressive system, all the more for being totally workaday, not exotic. Future here now for China EVs. pic.twitter.com/l8DkUtW2pA
& mdash; David Rennie 任大伟 (@DSORennie) December 22, 2021
Is there a defect? Only for the manufacturers of electric cars, who are strongly opposed to this type of service, and above all, to making cars with interchangeable batteries. In Gizmodo, the journalist Jason Torchinsky explains some of the arguments against the manufacturers of electric cars, among them, that designing cars with non-removable batteries allows to lighten the weight of the car, or that building batteries with their own designs facilitates a higher energy density.
Torchinsky points out that while the arguments might be valid, they don’t make sense to the end consumer. As long as the batteries offer relatively low autonomies for demanding users (about 95 miles in winter conditions), such as taxi drivers, and the charging centers do not match the speed of a gasoline refill, swapping a discharged battery for a full one in a matter of minutes it will be a very useful service.