Electric car battery swapping gets a reboot
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Electric car battery swapping gets a reboot

Jul 23, 2023

Ample's drive-through battery swapping station. Photo courtesy of Ample

Charging an electric vehicle (EV) is a time-consuming burden — which is why the notion of battery swapping, dismissed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and many others as unworkable, is still percolating.

Why it matters: Many drivers won't embrace EVs unless the refueling experience is as seamless as filling up a gas tank.

Driving the news: Ample, a California startup dedicated to battery swapping, is introducing a new streamlined station that cuts the process in half, to about five minutes.

Details: Ample's pre-fab stations can be deployed across a city in a matter of days. By installing multiple bays at a location, it can accommodate several cars at once.

How it works: Ample makes modular battery packs that can be integrated into EVs of any size and swapped out when depleted.

When a vehicle approaches Ample's drive-through station, the bay door opens automatically.

Flashback: Battery swapping has been tried before, with little success.

The problem: EV batteries are cumbersome and there's no industry standard design.

Meanwhile: One fast-growing Chinese EV company, NIO, is using a standard battery in all six of its models.

The intrigue: NIO is adding about 1,000 more stations in China and up to 70 more in Europe this year to support what it calls "battery-as-a-service."

The bottom line: Anything that makes EVs cheaper and refueling easier — whether it's battery swapping or more accessible charging — could help spur EV adoption.

Why it matters: Driving the news: Details: How it works: When a vehicle approaches Flashback: The problem: Meanwhile: The intrigue: The bottom line: