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This startup wants to make swappable EV batteries a thing again

Roadshow logo Roadshow 2021-03-03 Kyle Hyatt
a car parked on the side of a building: Drive in and 10 minutes later, you drive out with a new, fully charged battery. Ample © Provided by Roadshow Drive in and 10 minutes later, you drive out with a new, fully charged battery. Ample

Back when electric vehicles had ranges that could best be described as "uninspiring," a bunch of companies toyed with the idea of offering a car with swappable battery packs. Its something that still comes up now and then, but for the most part, it's been left behind as battery tech has improved.

A startup called Ample apparently didn't get that memo because it announced its swappable battery system on Wednesday. It says it's been working for the last six years with companies like Uber to bring it to market.

Ample's goal is to offer fully automated battery swaps in around 10 minutes at small, self-contained pop-ups. The structures would be cheap and straightforward to build and take up no more than two standard parking spaces. Ample even has a video showing the process on a modified Nissan Leaf .

Replay Video

Here's the problem, though: Getting the industry to pivot away from the idea of large fixed battery packs and public charging stations will likely be next to impossible. Ample's system is unlikely to succeed as a consumer-focused system, in other words. But it could make sense for commercial vehicles.

a car parked on the side of a building: Drive in and ten minutes later, you drive out with a new, fully charged battery. © Ample

Drive in and ten minutes later, you drive out with a new, fully charged battery.

It would make sense in places like ports, where an electric vehicle with its lack of emissions and tons of torque makes it well-suited to lugging containers around. Having the ability to change batteries out quickly would mean that downtime due to charging would be basically nonexistent.

Ample says that it's currently being deployed in the Bay Area, where it's working with ride-sharing, last-mile delivery, and municipal fleet partners. It also claims that it's "actively working with a number of the world's largest automakers to enable mass deployment in the US, Europe, and Asia."

Check out the video and let us know what you think. Will Ample change the trajectory of EV development?

Nissan's Re-Leaf is here to help

a fire truck parked in front of a car: The Nissan Re-Leaf is here.

The Nissan Re-Leaf is here.
© Provided by Roadshow
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