What if there was another way to charge electric vehicles, a way that saved time spent waiting?

Battery swapping stations can be that alternate route, allowing drivers to treat the car more like a device with batteries that can be easily switched out.

This approach can make breakthroughs in charging speeds and even lower the cost of vehicles by selling them without batteries.

Yes, but: Battery swapping poses new problems. For one, the batteries are expensive and bulky. Creating a grid network of these stations would be costly and complex, with trucks hauling the batteries from one point to another, according to Charged EVs magazine.

The biggest obstacle is that this approach requires automakers to cooperate. “Automakers don’t standardize vehicles or batteries, and aren’t looking to start,” Lawrence Ulrich, an IEEE Spectrum reporter, wrote.

Case in point: Tesla adopted battery swapping in 2013 on the Model S, only to halt the program because of hassle-filled stations and disinterested customers.

Battery charging is the future and swapping does not conform with the development of the EV market and will be eventually kicked out of the game, Tesla’s global VP Li Tao said, according to Benzinga.

State of play: The drawbacks haven’t stopped companies from showing interest in the approach.

Currently, NIO, based in Shanghai, is the only EV company with a battery swap network. It has 700 stations, with each station costing $500,000 to build.

“It can work with a dedicated fleet that have very, very high value on time,” said Gil Tal, director of the University of California Davis’ Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center. “If fast charging will take half an hour and the battery swap takes five minutes, you save 25 minutes.”

In 2021, India’s automaker Mahindra announced a partnership with Reliance Industries to use the swapping technology for food delivery fleets.