As EV penetration increases, drivers may start to find that queuing at charging stations increases their charging times. One potential alternative solution is to swap out a depleted battery pack for a new one, and Ample has just revealed that it does this in just five minutes.
After seven years of developing the solution in stealth mode, Ample launched its first generation battery swap station in 2021. An electric vehicle fitted with “Lego-style” battery modules can be rolled onto a platform and within 10 minutes a spent module is automatically removed and replaced with a fully charged one. The removed battery cells are then charged and ready for the next customer.
Since its launch, the company reports that stations have been deployed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area to support fleet partners like Uber and Sally testing the rapid swap solution. Ample also consulted with last-mile delivery providers to better understand their needs.
“While working with these fleets, we keep hearing that despite well-intentioned efforts to electrify their fleets, drivers may spend more than 10-12 hours, or 25% of their workweek, at charging stations,” Ample blogged “We’ve heard from cities that, in the race to electrification, city dwellers lack reliable EV charging, garages and nighttime charging options, and our new solution seeks to address this,” the article said.
The latest charging station is designed to support electric vehicles of all sizes — from small passenger cars to vans the size of a Sprinter. The EV rolls onto the platform, which rises during the swap. Drivers and passengers can now choose to remain in the vehicle throughout the entire process, or get out to stretch their legs. Five minutes later, the low battery module has been removed and replaced with a new battery, and the vehicle can drive out of the station.
Ample described the recent experience of an Uber driver in San Francisco picking up passengers in the San Francisco Bay Area and driving 120 miles before the battery needed some attention. After recognizing an approaching authorized vehicle, the doors at Ample Station are automatically raised, the driver parks, and uses a smartphone app to initiate the express change process.
The domestic shoebox-sized battery modules are tuned for safety and designed to be integrated into any modern electric vehicle. The new sites have been redesigned to be easier to deploy to one site in as little as three days, and they have also been made more durable to adapt to varying local conditions as the company expanded. They can also be monitored remotely 24/7 “for enhanced security and customer support.”
Ample is now calling on more EV manufacturers, fleet operators and municipalities to “join our journey to electrification”. The video below has more.
Plenty: A new and exciting experience