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China's CATL launches battery swap service for electric cars

As EV sales rise, manufacturer looks to cure 'range anxiety' among consumers

A factory operated by Contemporary Amperex Technology: CATL is the world's top producer of automotive batteries. (Photo courtesy of CATL)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. on Tuesday launched a battery swap service for electric vehicles called EVOGO, which it said would allow drivers to change car batteries in one minute.

The battery maker will set up swap stations in 10 cities around China and users will be able to access the service via an app, Chen Weifeng, general manager of CATL's subsidiary Contemporary Amperex Energy Service Technology Ltd., said during an event streamed live online.

The service allows drivers to swap out depleted battery blocks for freshly charged ones at its swap stations, Chen said.

Chinese automaker FAW Group's Bestune NAT multi-purpose vehicle will be the first car that the service will be compatible with, he said, adding that more models would be included in the future.

"We consider the battery as a shared product, instead of a consumer product for personal use," said Chen.

He said EVOGO aimed to address "the challenge of range anxiety, inconvenience of recharging and high purchasing and driving costs" for owners.

EVOGO's launch comes as electric-vehicle sector companies are competing to cut costs and reduce "range anxiety" to increase the products' appeal, especially in China where EV sales have taken off.

Chinese EV maker NIO has already built a network of 700 battery swapping stations across China since 2000, which allows NIO car owners to swap a fully charged battery in three minutes.

Geely also said in September that it aims to set up 5,000 battery swapping stations for electric vehicles globally by 2025.

Tesla's fast charging technology Supercharger usually takes 15 minutes to recharge up to 200 miles of range. The U.S. automaker in the past tested, but then withdrew a plan to offer battery swapping to customers.

Outside China, Honda Motor has partnered with Yamaha Motor and scooter maker Piaggio to develop swappable batteries for light electric vehicles. San Francisco startup Ample has partnered with Uber to offer battery swapping services to Uber drivers in California.

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