How do electric vehicles work?
The basics of an electric vehicle are relatively simple. An EV is powered by an electric motor, which is supplied by a large battery pack. The battery pack stores energy that can be used to power the motor which drives the wheels of the vehicle.
But, charging it again takes a whole lot of time in most of the current models we have running on the road. Solution?
No, dumping your beloved EV is not what we are suggesting, care for a lightning-fast battery swap rather?
A California startup has developed a new battery-swapping system that can completely recharge an electric vehicle in mere 10 minutes.
If you’re an EV driver, would you be interested in using Ample’s battery-swapping stations? Or do you think that the current charging infrastructure is good enough? Read on to know everything!
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Battery Swapping Startup Ample
The California startup called Ample is making it easier and faster for electric vehicle (EV) drivers to keep their cars charged and on the road. Ample is a brainchild of Khaled Hassounah and John De Souza, founded in 2014.
The company’s technology enables a full EV battery swap in just 10 minutes, which is significantly faster than the current industry standard of around 30 minutes.
The US is moving towards a more electric future as President Biden eyes targeting as many as 500,000 public chargers by the end of 2030. However, battery swapping is not part of his notes on this number, there is still a big gap to fill.
Many EV drivers suffer from the fear of running out of power before reaching their destination. Moreover, plug-in chargers do have limits that can’t be overcome by simply adding more, they are a strain on the electricity grid and costly to construct, and, even at their quickest, excruciatingly slow when compared to gas pumps.
Ample could be a big deal for EV adoption, as range anxiety is one of the main barriers to entry for many potential buyers. With Ample’s technology, EV drivers could easily and quickly “refuel” their cars at one of the company’s swapping stations, without having to worry about running out of juice.
Ample’s battery-swapping technology is based on a modular design that allows for the quick and easy exchange of battery packs. However, they are focusing on professional driver’s fleets like Uber for now.
Ample has over 5 stations only in the Bay area and plans to launch many more in a matter of weeks. As many as 100 Uber drivers are banking on Ample battery swapping services averaging 1.3 swaps every day. The number of Ample stations is very tiny in front of superchargers, public stations, and massive gas stations.
A vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon can easily increase its range by 300 miles in less than five minutes with a full tank of 12 gallons. It’s considered ultra-fast if your EV does the same amount in 40 minutes. However, ten such ultra-quick charging stations set side by side would require a megawatt power capable of powering more than a hundred houses.
What Is Modular Battery Swapping?
Ample uses a modular battery swapping method to replace the depleted battery packs with all freshly stocked battery packs in the vehicle. This means that you can swap out your battery without having to remove the entire system.
Imagine how you put a Duracell or a rechargeable battery in a toy car to get it running back, all you have to do is remove the old one and insert the new one. Ample does the same using ultra-precise robot arms instead of us humans!
Ample EV batteries are designed in such a way that they can fit in any regular production EV model. Be it Tesla or a Nissan Leaf, anything, they can make their battery packs to fit in those cars.
Ample does solve many problems and challenges when it comes to battery swapping by turning modular. Ample battery modules are only about the size of a box making it easier to manage the battery swapping. The robotic arms stacks these modules on a tray that is permanently fixed on the EV’s battery floor.
How Does It work?
The best part is how effortless the whole action is with fully automated ample stations. Robot arms lift the entire vehicle up and automatically scan the battery pack to find the depleted cells. Swiftly replacing them with new battery packs using LEGO-style Ample batteries.
The modules are automatically locked in place on the shelves, and the vision system ensures that they are properly charged before being released.
The Ample station can swap out a battery in less than 5 minutes, which is much faster than traditional methods of charging or swapping batteries. This enables electric vehicles to continue driving for long periods of time without having to stop for a lengthy charge.
Each Ample station has about ten car’s worth of power and keeps charging the ones depleted and left behind by the EVs.
This is great for those who want to keep their electric vehicles running smoothly and efficiently without having to wait at charging stations. Modular battery swapping also allows you to change the size of your battery, depending on your needs.
“Give us six weeks. We can set up a whole city,” says the founder of the company, Hassounah. Ample claims to be able to construct and operate a brand-new swapping station in the space of two standard parking spaces. Because power may be drawn from an overhang connection, no digging or big construction job is required.
With Ample Modular Battery Swapping, electric vehicles can now enjoy the same level of convenience as gasoline cars. No more waiting for hours to charge your car. Just drive up to an Ample station, swap out your battery, and be on your way. Simple!
Benefits of Choosing Swapping Than Recharging Your EV?
There are endless possibilities with battery swapping, users can have the option to buy vehicles without batteries or subscribe to a battery-replacement service. Moreover, modular swap out of discharged batteries for charged ones at kiosks is already there. Swapping batteries can put the EV industry on a similar time front as refueling ICE cars.
- Save Time: Recharging your EV can take hours or overnight. Battery swapping is a much quicker process that can get you back on the road in no time.
- Save Money: The cost of recharging your EV can add up over time, especially if you have to pay for public charging stations. Ample battery swapping is a more cost-effective option that can save you money in the long run.
- Convenience: Recharging your EV can be a hassle, especially if you don’t have access to a public charger, live in a high-rise, or if you’re always on the go. Battery swapping is a convenient option that allows you to swap out your battery whenever it’s running low, without having to stop and recharge.
- Environmentally Friendly: Recharging your EV produces emissions from the power plant that supplies the electricity. Battery swapping doesn’t produce any emissions, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
- Better for Your Battery: Recharging your EV battery at home and on public chargers can degrade the battery over time. Battery swapping is a gentler process that won’t degrade your battery as quickly.
- Safety: Recharging your EV battery can be dangerous if not done properly. Battery swapping is a much safer option that eliminates the risk of fire or explosion.
- Reliability: Recharging your EV can be unreliable, especially in cold weather. Battery swapping is a more reliable option that can provide you with the power you need when you need it.
- Freedom: Recharging your EV can be restrictive, especially if you don’t have access to a public charger. Battery swapping gives you the freedom to swap out your battery whenever and wherever you want.
- Peace of Mind: Recharging your EV can be stressful, especially if you suffer from range anxiety.
Battery Swapping Solutions Around the World
Another California startup StoreDot claims to have developed a new battery technology that can charge an electric vehicle (EV) in just 10 minutes. The technology is based on nanomaterials and uses a unique “lithium-ion chemistry” that the company says is “stable at high temperatures and can be recharged multiple times without degradation. However, so far no production model from them came out to the public.
Once functional and progressive but now a defunct company, called Better Place, says the technology could help to overcome one of the main barriers to widespread EV adoption: range anxiety.
The battery swapping system works by automatically exchanging a depleted battery pack for a fully charged one. The process is said to take just 10 minutes, which is much faster than the time it takes to recharge a battery using a standard Level 2 charger.
Better Place was way ahead of its time to offer battery swapping across Israel and Denmark, however, the idea cost them badly and they had to file bankruptcy almost a decade ago.
Keeping a huge stock of fully charged batteries made them suffer at that time, and EV owners were unsure of the battery health they were supposed to swap with.
Better Place and Renault battery swapping collab failed. However, NIO Inc China has done marvelously well taking only 3 minutes to swap battery pack overcoming the shortcomings Better Place were facing in their time.
NIO is expanding its business to Europe, planning to come to the US as they sit at 1151 and a growing number of Power Swap stations in China.
Ample has developed a flexible system that adapts to carmakers instead of expecting them to change putting them ahead of other players in the market.
Battery swapping may very well become the future, as you can trade in a tiny battery module for a local journey or get a bigger one for a long-distance trip.
Battery switching would be beneficial to EV drivers who live in large, high-rise cities where home charging is restricted. Though there might be some challenges of availability, the stack of batteries can serve as a backup for the system in any range-related crisis.
Tesla too made an effort to try swapping in 2014 but gave up on their pilot project (by appointment only) project citing widescale technological challenges. However, the Chinese battery swap solution NIO looks like it follows the same business model as Tesla.
Ample startup is doing significantly better at solving many challenges with its accommodating battery design, size, tech, and AI. All too much like rising from the ashes? Ample, and new battery-swapping startups definitely look like a new-age Phoenix.
And there’s not much wrong with that, right?