Author: Jingtao Wu
Swappable and rentable batteries, familiar scents, and affordable prices.
When it comes to battery swapping, perhaps NIO is the first thing that comes to mind for many people. After all, as the first domestic automaker to make battery swapping a core competitive advantage and a member of the “New Car” first tier, many consumers’ understanding of this energy supplement mode originates from NIO.
But if I told you that besides NIO, there is another domestic new energy brand that currently provides battery swapping mode, and it also belongs to Geely. At this point, I wonder how many people can immediately react to who it is.
It is Geely’s sub-brand launched last year called “EVOL” for battery swapping transportation.
Who is EVOL?
After reading the beginning, I believe friends who are not familiar with the Geely EVOL brand will be a bit confused about why Geely has another new energy brand, and it is also taking the battery swapping route.
Therefore, I want to first introduce the basic information of the Geely EVOL brand here, so that you can understand this brand and the products that will be introduced later.
Geely EVOL is a “joint venture brand” jointly invested by Lifan Auto and Geely at the beginning of 2022, with the main focus on battery swapping technology route, and plans to build more than 5,000 battery swapping stations covering more than 100 core cities by 2025.
In fact, if you look closely at the models currently launched by Geely EVOL, it is not difficult to find that they are closely related to a certain model under the Geely brand. Therefore, Geely EVOL can be simply understood as Geely Group’s sub-brand that mainly focuses on battery swapping route in the new energy strategic layout.On the product level, earlier Rulai Automotive introduced two battery-swapping electric vehicle models, Fengye 80V and Fengye 60S, primarily targeting the B-end market.
Last June Rulai Automotive launched the GBRC Crystal Architecture, which is a highly expandable pure electric architecture based on the overall chassis swapping technology. It can be compatible with various models such as sedans, SUVs, and MPVs with various powertrains that realize multiple drive forms like front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive.
By the end of last year, Geely Rulai released and launched the mid-size SUV vehicle model Rulai 9 built on the GBRC Crystal Architecture for C-end market, but at the same time, the launch period coincided with the large fluctuations of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting the circulation and attention of the new vehicle to a certain extent.
And this time we came to Hainan to bring you the experience of Geely Rulai 9, a battery-swapping and rental electric vehicle.
Who is Rulai 9
After solving the question of who Geely Rulai is, there is another core issue to be addressed-who is Geely Rulai 9?
As mentioned above, the models currently offered by Geely Rulai are closely related to the models under the Geely brand. It is precisely this hard strength supported by the big factory that enables this newly established brand of just over a year to successfully launch multiple products in a short period and have its exclusive technology architecture.
So which Geely model is Rulai 9 “blood-related” to? We can start with the exterior design of Geely Rulai 9 to find the answer.
The front face design of Rulai 9 is quite in line with the “trend elements” of the current automotive circle, with a continuous LED light strip connected to the two-sided LED light group, which widens the visual width of the front of the car.
The split-style design of the headlights in the Ruijie 9 not only conforms to the popular elements, but also has some resemblance to the signature style of Geely ICON. However, it is not easy to judge which Geely car it is just based on the front view.
Looking at the side of the car, the familiar and tough body shape, the two lines that echo with the fender, and the highly recognizable D-pillar design immediately remind us of the SUV model in the same class of Geely – Haoyue.
Not only do they share similar styling, but the body size of Ruijie 9 (484518901778mm) and the wheelbase of 2825mm are almost identical to that of Haoyue.
The styling of the rear end of the car is also similar to that of Haoyue, but the taillights and rear bumper have been redesigned.
Looking inside the car, the overall shape and functional layout of the T-shaped central control panel in Ruijie 9 is highly consistent with that of the Geely Haoyue L, with only significant differences in the steering wheel logo and button design.
Ruijie 9 is equipped with an L2 level advanced driving assistance system and a relatively rare W-HUD head-up display system at the same price point.As for space, the Roewe MARVEL R provides 6-seats (2+2+2) and 7-seats (2+3+2) two kinds of seat layouts, and the version we test drive is a 7-seats model.
All three seats in the second row adopt independent seat design, which can adjust seat position and backrest angle separately. In the five-seater layout, the legroom of the second row is quite spacious.
The riding experience of the second row seats is also quite comfortable, but due to the fact that the rear seats are divided into three independent seats, the width of the second row seats may not be enough to completely wrap around passengers with a larger body.
In the five-seater layout, the trunk of the Roewe MARVEL R has a space of 628L, and the loading capacity is quite strong.
If 7 people need to travel, the third-row seats can be unfolded, and the second-row seats can be moved slightly forward, so that the legroom in the third row has some guarantee, and the sitting posture is relatively natural.
And both of the two seats in the third row also support backrest angle adjustment, and the riding experience is not too stressful for short trips.
In the 7-seater layout, the trunk space of the Roewe MARVEL R is 162L, and it can still accommodate the luggage of 4 people in the same car (1 suitcase, 3 backpacks, several shopping bags) as measured in practice.
Overall, this Roewe MARVEL R performs quite well in terms of riding space and loading space.
In terms of power and range, the entire range of the LYNK & CO 09 is equipped with a 150kW front permanent magnet synchronous motor, and offers two choices of battery capacity, 52.56kWh and 66.57kWh, of ternary lithium battery pack; the corresponding CLTC range is 380km and 470km.
In addition, the LYNK & CO 09 is also equipped with a heat pump system, which provides a certain degree of help for the vehicle’s range performance in low temperature environments in winter.
As for calibration, the LYNK & CO 09 offers three driving modes – Economy, Comfort, and Sport – and provides three gear energy recovery strength adjustment.
Thanks to the motor’s power characteristics, the LYNK & CO 09 has a clear advantage in power response and absolute power performance compared to many petrol cars of the same level and price.
Especially in congested road conditions, where frequent stop-and-go occurs in urban areas, the LYNK & CO 09 has a better experience in response to starting and power performance for secondary acceleration, thanks to the advantage of driving on electricity.
Regarding actual driving experience, there was no opportunity to conduct an in-depth test during high-speed secondary acceleration ability or full load power performance in this test drive. However, with four people and luggage, the power performance showed no signs of significant attenuation in acceleration at speeds above 80 km/h.
In terms of ride quality, the LYNK & CO 09’s insulation from wind and road noise is at an average level for cars of the same class. Due to its rectangular design, the increase in wind noise during high-speed driving is more noticeable.
The overall riding feeling of the chassis is inclined towards a firm style, which is not loose but lacks toughness. When facing road bumps and speed bumps, the front suspension’s action is relatively gentle, while the rear suspension feedback is more direct.
Highlights of the LYNK & CO 09
From the above brand introduction, we can learn that “battery swapping travel” is the main focus of Geely’s LYNK & CO, and as the first comprehensive C-segment model under the brand, the battery-swapping experience of the LYNK & CO 09 is believed to be a product highlight that consumers are more concerned about.During the event, the official of Riich arranged for us to watch the battery swapping process of Riich 9. Friends who have experienced NIO’s battery swapping should be familiar with this energy supplement mode.
Riich’s battery swapping station also adopts all-mechanical operation, driving to the station for a battery swap does not require exiting the vehicle, and the entire process can be waited in the car.
Riich stated that Riich 9 supports 1-minute rapid battery swapping (mechanical part swapping time). According to on-site timing observations, from the voice prompt to the final departure of the vehicle from the battery swapping station, the entire battery swapping process takes about 3 minutes.
Compared with the fast charging time of dozens of minutes, the battery swapping mode has made a qualitative leap in the improvement of energy supplement efficiency.
Furthermore, during the battery swapping process, there will be obvious text and voice prompts in the station to clearly inform passengers of the battery swapping progress in the car. For users who have just started to experience the battery swapping mode, this design can significantly improve their usage experience.
In the current new energy vehicle market, the sales model of using battery leasing to achieve “vehicle-electric separation” has been accepted by many consumers. In addition to using the battery swapping energy supplement mode, Riich 9 has also launched a battery leasing sales model.
Taking the 470km initial version equipped with a 66.57 kWh battery pack of the Riich 9 as an example, the purchase price of the whole vehicle (including the battery) is 191,900 yuan, while the price of the vehicle using the battery leasing scheme is only 121,900 yuan, reducing the price of the vehicle using the battery leasing scheme by 70,000 yuan, and the monthly energy service fee is 898 yuan.
After adopting the battery leasing scheme, the price of all Riich 9 models is reduced to 109,900-129,900 yuan, which is extremely competitive for a mid-size pure electric SUV with 6-7 seats.Single from the perspective of car purchase price, using the battery leasing method can reduce the car purchase cost by 60,000 to 70,000 yuan at one time, which is of great help to improving the cost-effectiveness of the vehicle.
However, if measured by the final transaction price, for consumers with a car purchase budget of 110,000 to 130,000 yuan, the monthly battery leasing cost of over 800 yuan is also a considerable expense in the car use cost. If after evaluation, it is considered acceptable to incur such a battery leasing cost each month, then using the battery leasing scheme can indeed alleviate a considerable part of the pressure on car purchase costs.
Advantages and disadvantages
Frankly speaking, with only half a day of test driving time, many evaluations related to in-depth experience cannot be shared with you in detail.
However, in the half-day initial experience of the Roewe ERX5, I think its advantages and disadvantages are quite distinct.
The advantages of the Roewe ERX5 are:
Excellent passenger and cargo space compared to other pure electric vehicles in the same price range.
Relatively rich configuration level.
The advantage of battery swapping greatly improves the experience of replenishing energy. At the same time, compared with battery swapping models on the market with prices above 300,000 yuan, the appearance of the Roewe ERX5 also greatly reduces the price threshold of the battery swapping mode.
The disadvantages are: 1. Driving quality needs to be improved. 2. The number and layout of battery swapping stations still need to be observed in the short term.
In the long-term development trend of new energy vehicles, pure electric vehicles are the mainstream direction of new energy development that we officially recognize and can foresee in the current stage. The early layout of the battery swapping mode through the Roewe sub-brand reflects that Geely’s overall layout in the new energy field has strong foresight.
For ordinary consumers, however, the development trend of the new energy industry is not their biggest concern. The specific performance of the vehicle product is the focus of attention.
Returning to the specific product, this Roewe ERX5 has a very long “battery swapping for travel” board and a high cost-effectiveness of battery leasing, which is worth considering.
If you have a budget of over one hundred thousand yuan for purchasing a car, and you need a pure electric SUV model with spacious room and high configuration, while also longing for fast and convenient battery swapping as a way of supplementing energy, then the product style of the ORA R9 will perfectly suit your driving needs.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.