One of China’s largest car manufacturers and Volvo parent company, Geely, has announced plans to install battery swapping stations specifically for long-haul and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs).
Battery swapping services have been popularised in China for passenger vehicles as more drivers transition to electric alternatives. However, often larger vehicles aren’t catered for as typical swap stations do not possess the powerful machinery needed to attend to them.
Recently Geely shared an update from its subsidiary, Geely Technology Group, that outlined plans to roll out battery swapping services to what the company calls ‘heavy goods vehicles’ (HGVs).
These electric vehicles, like cement mixers, bulldozers and graders, are not compatible with standard swap stations, as their immense weight makes lifting impossible – the battery pack alone for an HGV can weigh as much as three tons.
A video released by Geely Technology Group described how the research team worked around the sheer size of each battery pack. Instead of lifting the vehicles and installing charged units from below, engineers opted to lower the three-ton behemoths into position from above.
Upon entering the HGV swap station, vehicle operators are guided into position, allowing drivers to scan a QR code to begin the automated process. A crane then secures a new battery unit from the on-site warehouse and swaps it out with the old one. Geely says the entire process takes about five minutes at the 200 square-foot, solar-energy compatible stations.
The Hangzhou-based company has explored battery-as-a-service (BaaS) before. In 2021, the firm announced a battery swap service specifically designed for China’s ride-share industry, touting one-minute swaps.
With about 700, China has the most swap stations worldwide, according to a January Bloomberg article. While the service hasn’t gained the same traction globally as it has in China, this has not halted several Chinese EV makers’ ambitions to build more. Both Geely and Nio have committed to rolling out 8 000 by the end of this year and 25 000 by 2025.
Geely is one of the chief proponents of the EV revolution, owning multiple subsidiaries that have all announced plans to go electric. Among Geely’s subsidiary firms are Volvo, Polestar and Lotus, in which it has significant shareholdings. Volvo recently announced it would only manufacture EVs from 2030, and Lotus has announced similar targets.