Will a predictable, gas-station-like experience for getting a fully charged vehicle convince more last-mile delivery companies to shift to EVs?
That’s the proposition from California-based Ample, which now says it can give electric trucks a full charge in five minutes, thanks to its second-generation battery-swapping system revealed in May.
On Tuesday, Ample brought its tech into a new arena with the announcement of a partnership with Daimler Trucks unit Mitsubishi Fuso. This next winter, the companies plan to deliver versions of the Fuso eCanter electric truck in Japan with the Ample battery-swapping system, with plans to integrate them “on a global scale” within company fleets already in the works.
Ample 2nd generation battery swapping station
According to Ample, last-mile delivery accounts for 25-30% of emissions in cities globally. Ample says that the swapping station requires no backing-up, and the truck could even be loaded while it’s battery is being swapped.
The firm revealed its second-generation swapping system in May. Ample revealed the first generation of its system in 2021 after seven years of behind-the-scenes development. It took “years of R&D, thousands of swaps, and more than a million electric miles driven” to make the swapping tech possible, according to the company.
The new swapping platform allows it to effectively half the swap time, from 10 minutes to five minutes, and passengers can exit or enter the vehicle while a swap is in progress.
Ample emphasizes that installing its station requires no digging, and a complete station can be installed in three days from pre-built sections. It says that its stations have been “battle-tested to withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions.”
Ample battery swapping
Since its 2021 emergence, Ample has worked with a range of fleets, especially those relating to last-mile delivery, and found that drivers of work-use EVs could potentially spend about 25% of their work week at charging stations—due largely to the lack of reliable overnight charging.
So far, Ample has been working mostly with the Nissan Leaf, which is air-cooled. Ample’s integration depends on shoebox-sized modular batteries. It hasn’t detailed how it will deal with cooling-system connections in a higher-load delivery vehicle like the eCanter, which does have a liquid-cooled battery pack.
CATL Evogo battery swapping
The idea of battery swapping was tested and thrown out by Tesla and considered all but dead a few years ago. But amid concerns about reliable fast-charging, companies have become far more interested in the idea. The battery giant CATL last year launched an entire Evogo business around battery swapping, focusing on Chinese EV drivers without home charging.
More recently, Fisker also announced that its Ocean electric SUV will get swappable batteries in 2024, in a project with Ample.