With cash in hand, the battery startup looks to expand its infrastructure beyond the Bay Area.
Battery swapping as a means of facilitating electric vehicle charging is gaining currency.
San Francisco-based Ample, which employs modular battery swapping to optimize electric vehicles charging, announced a $160 million funding round led by Moore Strategic Ventures. The cash infusion will be used to expand Ample’s operations in the U.S. and beyond, with an emphasis on harnessing solar and wind power to recharge EV batteries.
In an interview, Ample founders John de Souza and Khaled Hassounah said the new investment will fund technology enhancements for reducing wait times for EV recharging. “In addition to our ongoing work with Uber, we’ve announced a partnership with energy company Eneos to bring our technology to Japan,” de Souza said. Another partnership with New York-based fleet provider Sally will focus on battery swapping for EV drivers, taxis and ride-sharing services.
The Eneos project is based on automation technology that allows battery swapping in minutes. It is expected to available by spring 2022 and will initially involve last-mile delivery and passenger transport companies.
Ample claims its modular approach installs a fully charged battery in less than 10 minutes, or three times faster than standard charging. It works with most EVs and reduces the cost and time required to install EV infrastructure. The approach allows providers to set up battery swapping operations akin to filling gas tanks in cars powered by internal combustion. “Our batteries are made out of Lego-like modules that can accommodate any vehicle regardless of its size or model. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for existing gas drivers to switch to electric vehicles without compromise. So far, we have seen great enthusiasm and demand for our technology from both fleet managers and car manufacturers,” Hassounah said.
Once a vehicle is equipped with a battery module, EV drivers can enter automated battery swapping stations where depleted modules are swapped with fresh ones. The removed modules are then recharged in time for the next vehicle. Ample’s framework has also been designed so the swapping station can be assembled on-site without construction. In order to lighten the load on the grid, solar panels can also be mounted on the station.
The new venture funding will be used to scale the modular battery exchange technology. “The funding gives us the impetus to be able to expand the deployment our technology. New York will be the next big stop, and it’s an important event for us because we’ll be deploying stations far away from home. It’s a good demonstration of how fast we can deploy infrastructure to cover an entire city. We’ll then launch in Europe as we are seeing big demand for a commercially viable infrastructure solution in different countries,” including Spain, Italy, U.K and France, Hassounah said.
Ample is initially focusing on fleet electrification in hopes of accelerating large networks of swapping stations that can eventually support consumers. Bay Area efforts currently focus on ride-sharing operations. “Our technology allows fleet managers to electrify their fleets without losing any of the economic benefits or convenience of gasoline. In addition, we are actively working with some of the world’s largest automakers to enable mass deployment in the US, Europe and Asia,” said de Souza.
This article was originally published on EE Times.
Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio holds a Ph.D. in Physics and is a telecommunication engineer and journalist. He has worked on various international projects in the field of gravitational wave research. He collaborates with research institutions to design data acquisition and control systems for space applications. He is the author of several books published by Springer, as well as numerous scientific and technical publications on electronics design.