Australian electric car owners could drive into a service station with a flat electric car battery and drive out with a full charge in less than five minutes – if an ambitious battery swapping plan from Chinese brand LDV gets off the ground.
The brand today confirmed it plans to equip its next-generation electric vans, utes, and people movers with swappable batteries.
Rather than relying on ultra-rapid DC chargers – which even in the fastest-charging electric cars take more than 20 minutes to deliver a full charge – LDV vehicles capable of battery swapping could arrive at a service station with close to no range, and have a fully charged battery installed in around three minutes.
Work is already underway in China as part of a partnership between LDV parent company SAIC Motor and petrol company Sinopec, which operates more than 30,000 petrol stations across China and Hong Kong.
LDV Australia managing director Dinesh Chinnappa confirmed the brand is in discussions with potential partners Down Under, although it hasn’t yet locked in a local roadmap for battery swapping.
He also acknowledged the potential challenges associated with setting up a battery swap program in Australia relative to China, telling media it would be “much more difficult to coordinate here”.
“It’s probably something that over time has to happen. It’ll be just more challenging [in Australia],” Mr Chinnappa said.
The executive told media Australia will likely land on a “hybrid” solution to keep electric cars charged that “will reflect the way our Government thinks, and the way we tend to do things here with the free market”.
“It will reflect the size of the country and the sparseness of the population. It will reflect the fact that when we’re not burning off [reference to hazy Sydney skies] our air is cleaner. There will be a hybrid for Australia,” Mr Chinnappa said.
Battery swapping technology hasn’t made it to Australia, but does already exist in China.
Chinese electric car brand Nio operates stations capable of replacing the battery in its cars in less than five minutes across China and Europe, with plans to expand into Europe.
LDV also offers battery swapping in the MIFA 7 people mover, marketed under the Maxus MIFA 7 name in China.
In Australia, LDV currently offers the eT60 electric ute, the eDeliver 9 electric van, and the MIFA 9 electric people mover.
That range will expand to include the eDeliver 7 electric van and a new 4×4 electric ute in 2024, with plans for a further three electric light commercial vehicles to follow.