Chinese EV startup Nio is making it easier to get behind the wheel of one of its vehicles by making the battery available as a subscription, meaning buyers pay less up front.

Buyers first need to sign up to Nio's Battery as a Service (BaaS) subscription plan, after which they can purchase a Nio without a battery. This results in a saving of 70,000 yuan (approximately $10,112), regardless of the model.

Nio's most affordable model at present is the ES6 crossover SUV. Without the battery, the cost of the SUV is 273,600 yuan ($39,510).

Of course, buyers will need a battery to actually use their vehicle, so a battery subscription is also required. For this, Nio charges 980 yuan per month ($141) for a 70-kilowatt-hour battery.

Nio battery

Nio battery

The batteries are supplied by a separate company backed by CATL, a major Chinese battery supplier that lists multiple automakers as clients, including Tesla.

Nio also provides buyers with the opportunity to swap batteries, via the company's battery stations. You simply drive into the station and an automated system handles the swap. Nio has 143 locations for battery swapping in China and is continuously expanding.

The advantage with the subscription and the swapping capability is that a Nio owner will be able to swap to a different battery should technology improve or their situation change. For example, if you find a job closer to your home and no longer need to make a long commute, you'll potentially be able to opt for a smaller, less expensive battery, though right now only the 70-kwh option is available. Owners also won't have to worry about any performance degradation of the battery hurting resale value.

Right now Nio only operates in China. Should the company expand to more markets, it's likely the same subscription plan will be offered elsewhere. Nio has said it intends to start selling vehicles in some parts of Europe by the second half of 2021.