China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) has launched an electric vehicle battery swapping service which it says will allow drivers to change car batteries in one minute.

Comprising battery blocks, battery swap stations and a phone app, the EVOGO battery swap solution will be rolled out across ten cities in China, said Chen Weifeng, general manager of CAES, an operating subsidiary of CATL.

For reasons perhaps lost in translation, the battery blocks are designed to look like a bar of chocolate. The “Choco-SEB (swapping electric block)”, says Weifeng, is a mass-produced battery specially developed for EV battery-sharing. “It boasts,” he says, “the advantages of high-energy density with small size, flexible combination and minimalist design.”

Incorporating “the latest CTP (cell to pack) technology”, it can achieve a weight energy density of over 160 Wh/kg and a volume energy density of 325 Wh/L

A single block can achieve a driving range of 200 km and is compatible, says CAES, with 80% of global battery EV platform-based vehicles on the market and “all” battery EV platform-based models to be released in the next three years.

CAES claims that unlike conventional battery swap solutions, EVOGO is designed to suit vehicles ranging from small passenger cars to logistics vehicles.

Most EV owners, it says, purchase cars with the biggest battery they can afford to alleviate range anxiety, but typically use only 10 to 20 percent of the total capacity. This means, says CAES, they have paid “a high sunk cost for a power capacity that is rarely needed”.

EVOGO’s flexible model allows customers to choose the number of battery blocks to rent according to their driving needs. Only one block is needed for inner city commuting, but for longer trips, customers can rent two to three blocks, says Weifeng.