Electric Vehicle Battery Swapping Startup Ample Raises Another $160 Million
【Summary】San Francisco-based EV battery swapping startup Ample, which came out of stealth mode in March, announced its raised another $160 in Series C funding. Ample's modular battery swapping technology can work with any EV design, regardless of size, since it acts as a drop-in replacement for the vehicle's original battery modules.
San Francisco-based EV battery swapping startup Ample, which came out of stealth mode in March, announced its raised another $160 in Series C funding round led by Moore Strategic Ventures with participation from existing investors, Japanese energy company ENEOS and Shell Ventures.
The latest round brings Ample's total funding to $230 million. The company said it will use the funds to scale its modular battery swapping technology across the U.S. and in overseas markets.
Ample battery swapping technology includes a kit that's added to a production vehicle that allows the battery to be removed in under 10 minutes. It works with popular vehicles including the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt EV and Kia Niro.
The company has been working on its unique battery swapping technology in stealth mode for the past seven years.
Ample says its modular battery swapping technology can work with any EV design, regardless of size, since it acts as a drop-in replacement for the vehicle's original battery modules.
Ample's battery swapping technology has two primary components. The first is the fully-autonomous swapping station, which is about the size of two standard parking spaces. A driver simply parks in the station and the vehicle is automatically positioned in the station. After this step, robots remove the discharged battery modules from under the vehicle and replace them with fully charged ones.
The entire process is fully automated and takes just 10 minutes, which is much faster than conventional charging.
The discharged battery modules are then placed on storage shelves where they are recharged and ready for the next vehicle they will be installed in.
"It's the same as replacing the tire," Ample's co-founder and chief executive Khaled Hassounah told TechCrunch in March.
The second part is the company's modular EV battery module architecture, which Ample says resembles "Lego blocks." This Lego-like battery design allows for any EV to use one of Ample's swapping stations.
The battery modules are fitted with an adapter plate which also acts as the structural element of the battery pack. It has the same dimensions and the bolt pattern as the original one in the vehicle.
As EVs from different manufacturers have various battery pack designs, Ample said it worked closely with automakers to integrate its design so it works with existing electric vehicle platforms. The integration process takes around 2-3 months of working closely with an automaker, according to Ample.
"We don't modify the car whatsoever. You either put a fixed battery system or an Ample battery plate. We're able to work with the OEMs where you can make the battery swappable for the use cases where this makes a lot of sense without really changing the same vehicle," Hassounah told TechCrunch.
Ample aims to build a low-cost modular battery swap network, with infrastructure that can scale quickly. Ample also aims to make it as easy as possible for current gas drivers to switch to electric vehicles without having to worry about finding convenient charging.
Ample says its sees demand for its battery swapping technology from both fleet managers and car manufacturers.
Ample is also working closely with ride-sharing company Uber, paving the way for the company to add more zero emission vehicles to its network. Uber drivers in San Francisco can rent an electric vehicle outfitted with Ample's technology and quickly swap their electric vehicle batteries in minutes.
In addition to working with Uber, Ample is working with NYC-based fleet provider Sally to create a battery swapping experience for EV drivers and get more EV taxis and ride-sharing drivers on the road in NYC.
A separate collaboration with ENEOS will bring Ample's battery swapping technology to Japan.
Ample said it will announce additional strategic partnerships in the near future.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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