I can't remember anyone ever expressing to me anxiety with the range or economy of their lawn mower.
With our current powered devices, there are many good reasons to change from a liquid fuel to electric propulsion, but two of the top reasons holding people back in cars, at least, are range anxiety and battery recharge times.
With powered garden implements, those are not such big issues. It is no surprise, then, that battery-powered devices are starting to dominate the home environment.
For decades we have used petrol-powered lawn mowers and whipper snippers and blowers and ... everything else.
Storing a container of petrol in the garden shed has the equivalent explosive power of 83 standard sticks of dynamite and you would often need your separate containers for two-stroke and four-stroke engines. All a bit clumsy and dangerous, but we had no choice.
Then started a battery revolution when they exchanged extension cords for convenient and more efficient battery equivalents.
Lawn mower sales generates US$30.4 billion globally. In 2021, 49 per cent of that market was made up of electric versions including robotic and ride-on.
Then add in electric versions of not just the tools used by builders but everything around the home - chainsaws; pruning saws; garden vacuums; garden sprayers and anything else you can think of.
With garden implements, a flat battery means a walk back inside to charge or swap a battery. Not that dramatic. Some manufacturers even market a common battery to fit their complete range of products.
At US$2,700 billion, the global car market is somewhat larger than the lawn mower market.
Unfortunately only 8.6 per cent of car sales in 2021 were electric with consumers struggling with the two issues previously mentioned in addition to price.
So ... if we are happy to swap batteries in a lawn mower, why don't we just do that with our cars?
Sure, the size is a little larger and a little more expensive but that may well be a solution for some people going forward.
That is exactly the solution that Nio has been working with in China, and now starting in Europe. Nio is backed by Chinese tech giant, Tencent, better known as being the world's largest video game vendor.
Nio sold more than 90,000 cars last year, mostly in China. They already have 800 battery swapping stations in China. These may be the modern equivalent of a petrol station. A driver can book a slot with the Nio app and then drive to a station.
Then the car is parked on a designated spot and the battery is automatically removed from the base of the car and replaced with a fully charged one. Batteries are tested when being charged to ensure that there is minimal battery degradation and one single station can accommodate 240 swaps per day. Just like a petrol station has multiple pumps, a battery swap station could have multiple swap stations.
Norway leads the world in electric vehicle sales. In 2021, 65 per cent of all sales were pure electric and a further 27 per cent were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Due to this high penetration, Nio chose Norway for its first battery swap facility.
They have partnered with Shell (yes, an oil company) to roll out 1,000 battery swap stations by 2025. There are some that believe that the horse has already bolted in Europe with fast-charging points relatively common but if there is one specific thing that humans like, it is choice.
Tell me if you prefer the idea of charging your electric vehicle parked at home or swapping your battery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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