Electric Vehicle Wednesday: Scooter Battery Swapping Mystery
I liked this post on Twitter today:
Then I tried to track down the story, to learn the details, and found…nothing?
First I noticed that that tweet itself doesn’t link to a news story. That’s unusual, but maybe that’s more common in China. I’m not sure.
Then I searched Google (Baidu probably would be more helpful, but I don’t read or write Chinese) and found very little. SF Express does seem to be a Chinese logistics company, akin to Fedex or UPS in the US. But their English-language website doesn’t even feature a photo of a scooter, much less anything about battery swapping.
China Tower is a giant, state-owned electric utility. They do have an English-language website, although finding it takes a minute. The entity seems so huge that a battery-swap pilot seems like it would be small potatoes in the scheme of things, and their Media section hasn’t seen a press release in six months.
Google Search didn’t have much to show for this, but it did return a news story about a Chinese company called Immotor. Immotor even has a Crunchbase profile ($64.3M raised!) but the website URL redirects to a page that just has Chinese app links.
Anyhow, the e-scooter battery swap idea seems pretty neat. If the battery really is the size of a lunch box, that would seem to make this much more viable than battery-swapping for passenger vehicles. Instead of a whole network of automated or semi-automated swapping stations, a la Better Place, the network could just host racks of batteries and let the rider handle the swapping.
I’d love to learn whether this type of system is real or not.
Tayeb sent me a link to a (lengthy!) Chinese-language news story about the battery swapping program. The Google Translation of the story is awkward, but it appears that the program has been in place since 2019 and targets primarily food delivery drivers. There’s enough demand that stations running out of charged batteries is a big problem. In the future, they hope to expand the system to the general public.