EV Battery Swapping Gains Traction

A startup in California hopes to transform EV charging through leveraging battery swapping technology, aiming to provide a smooth recharging process that is comparable to that of topping up a gasoline tank.

Ample, a company based in California that offers battery switching, has commercialized a new, highly efficient swapping station which reduces the time needed for a swap to around five minutes. This is roughly the amount of time needed to fill a gasoline tank and is much less compared to the half hour or more taken to fully charge most electric vehicles at standard quick-charging stations.

The prefab points from Ample can be installed throughout a city in a matter of days. It can fit multiple vehicles at once by deploying several swapping bays at one site. In San Francisco, Ample has tested battery swaps for drivers of Uber, and not long ago, it expanded to Japan and Spain. The company recently signed a contract with electric vehicle maker Fisker to incorporate its battery swaps into the forthcoming Ocean sports utility vehicle (SUV).

According to Khaled Hassounah, the company is going to begin by concentrating on business operations, such as delivery trucks and ride-hailing service providers.

Ample manufactures modular packs of batteries that fit into electric vehicles of all sizes and may be swapped out if they are low on power. These shoebox-sized battery modules slide onto a connecting plate that is shaped and proportioned to look like the battery’s original version of a certain car.

The bay’s door instantly unlocks as a vehicle reaches the drive-through swapping station at Ample. Once inside, the driver parks and activates the battery switch using Ample’s application. The system automatically determines the vehicle’s battery needs and then replaces the drained battery with a completely charged one.

In the meantime, NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO), a rapidly expanding electric vehicle manufacturer in China, uses the same standard batteries in each of its six models. In contrast to Tesla’s system of supercharging, NIO switching stations are exclusively for use by NIO car owners and are owned and operated by the company.

According to a recent report by the firm, 1,383 battery switch outlets located in Europe and China are used by 60% of NIO’s 320,000 customers. In order to bolster what it refers to as the battery as a service, NIO plans to increase its number of stations in China to approximately 1,000 with an additional 70 locations in Europe during the next year. According to NIO, about 95% of Norwegian users have chosen this “battery-as-a-service.”

Battery switching as well as more convenient options for charging could both lower electric vehicle costs and improve the processes of recharging them. All this could nudge the greater adoption of electric vehicles forward.

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