Ample, the American start-up supported by Shell, among others, announced two partnerships in the past few days to deploy its technology for EV battery swapping in Japan and the USA. Ample supports fully automated modular battery exchanges and says it is working with various manufacturers.
The company first made our news in 2018 when Shell came on board as an investor. At the time, Ample revealed very little about what it was working on. Three years later, the company is ready to test its battery swapping system and claims it could support any electric vehicle.
Any EV can use Ample’s modules. The company calls the power blocks “lego-like” and says they could accommodate any vehicle regardless of size or model – if a vehicle maker opts to use the modules. Ample says it can act as a “drop-in replacement for the original battery design” and claims to have “already integrated into many existing platforms by working closely with automakers.” We reported previously that Ample was working with Uber’s fleet where drivers use any number of electrified cars. Upon our recent request for more information, the company would still not disclose any more partners by name but replied the following to explain the system:
“Ample’s modular batteries are a drop-in replacement for the OEM battery and do not require any modification to the car (either hardware or software). Ample does the work upfront to ensure that the modular battery is fully compatible with the vehicle by building an adapter plate that fits into the same space as the original battery. This allows the customers to buy an EV and opt for a swappable solution simply by selecting an Ample battery.”
For the battery swapping station, Ample has come up with a design that the company says can be constructed at any two available parking lots. The fully autonomous swapping station removes depleted battery modules from the car and replaces them with fully charged ones in under ten minutes, the company explains. The depleted battery modules are then placed on shelves where they are recharged. This, of course, requires a connection to electricity not further specified. There is, however, the capacity to capture wind and solar energy, says Ample.
Being relatively young, Ample is starting with electrifying fleets, and hopes said strategy will “accelerate the deployment of a wide-scale network that can support consumers too.” So far, Ample is being active regionally in the Bay Area and says it is working with a “wide range of ride-sharing, last-mile delivery, and municipal fleet partners”, which the company has not disclosed.
Ample has named Sally, a New York City-based vehicle rental company for ride-hailing, taxi and delivery services in today’s communications. Ample and Sally plan to provide a battery swap service in major US cities such as San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Details remain scarce, but the project is described as addressing “professional drivers”. Sally also claims to run the first electric yellow cab service in New York.
The other recent partnership is with Eneos, a local energy company in Japan. Over the next year, both companies plan to test Ample’s fully automated battery swap technology with several passenger and delivery companies in a first project. Furthermore, they will conduct a study where Ample’s swapping station will double as a large stationary battery for emergency power supply and hold energy from renewables.
In addition, Ample claims it was working with “a number of the world’s largest automakers to enable mass deployment in the US, Europe, and Asia.” These remain unnamed. The company also invites more fleets and carmakers to collaborate. Ample says the process of getting a new car on the platform would take no more than three months.
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