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China: Charging or changing: The question for China’s electric vehicle market

Recently, the choice of the electric vehicle charging mode once again became the hot topic in China.

The debate started last year, when State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and China Southern Power Grid (CSG) together announced that their EV charging strategy is to focus on battery swapping mode instead of charging mode.

This argument immediately caused a controversy in China’s industry that continues today.

The power grids argue that by using swapping mode, customers only need to drive into a swapping station with a nearly exhausted battery and drive out within five minutes with a freshly charged one. The recharging station will centralize battery charging during the off-peak time of the power grid and then distribute fully recharged batteries to swapping stations.

SGCC named this business model the Smart Charging Service Network. Battery replacement is the principal means of powering vehicles, and plug-in charging is supplemental.

However, the opposing automakers say that the swapping mode has safety issues due to the current lack of unified technological standards for making batteries. If battery specifications are different, it would be impossible for the swapping station to replace all types of batteries safely for diverse car brands.
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