China fossil fuel company Sinopec has signed a strategic agreement with NIO to fit one sixth of its filling stations with the car maker's battery swap facility by 2025.
This represents a big step up for China firm NIO Power, which plans to boost the number of its battery-swap stations from 201 to 5,000 over the next few years.
The new stations are not only fully automated but allow EV drivers to swap their depleted battery for a fully charged one in four-and-a-half minutes with a click of a single button
NIO has made its Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) scheme a key selling point.
An ongoing semiconductor chip shortage forced NIO to suspend production at its Hefei plant for five days earlier this month.
Sinopec is the world’s largest oil refiner by capacity but was overtaken in market capitalisation earlier this year by six-year-old electric vehicle startup NIO, which was then on the edge of bankruptcy, according to Week in China.
Zhang Yuzhuo, the company’s president, described Sinopec as essentially a “distribution company” that doesn’t necessarily need to confine itself to sales of petrol and diesel.
Five years ago the group was preparing to spin off Sinopec Marketing, its service station network. At that point, future profits were premised on the convenience stores attached to the country’s largest network of filling stations.
That offering never saw the light of day, in part due to the shift away from the internal combustion engine.