Today in San Francisco, an Uber driver behind the wheel of a fully electric car equipped with Ample batteries drove 120 miles around the Bay, dropping off and picking up passengers before taking a short break to swap out the vehicle’s depleted batteries with fully charged ones. Approaching the Ample station, the car is recognized by the station, and its door is automatically raised. Once perfectly parked inside, the driver initiates the swap from the Ample app on her phone. Five minutes later, the driver is back on the road resuming her work day.
While it may sound simple, the next generation of our EV battery-swapping system is a major feat that took years of R&D, thousands of swaps, and more than a million electric miles driven behind the scenes to make it possible.
Since we publicly debuted in 2021 after 7 years in stealth, we’ve deployed Ample across the Bay Area and worked closely with fleet partners such as Uber and Sally to fully test our technology with real drivers so that we could better understand their needs and the impact of battery swapping on their business operations.
In addition to our live deployments, we worked with other types of fleets — specifically in the last-mile delivery space — to understand the impact of battery swapping on their use cases. When working with these fleets, we continuously heard that despite well-intentioned efforts to electrify fleets, drivers could spend upwards of 10-12 hours, or 25% of a work week, at a charging station. We’ve heard from cities that, in the race to electrify, there is a lack of reliable EV charging for city dwellers who don’t have access to garages and the option of overnight charging, and our new solution seeks to fix that.
Our new stations and battery technology are designed to address all that and then some. By design, we’ve invented our system to facilitate a lateral move from gas to be just as fast, as simple and as cheap, all while being a completely green solution.
As we scale and bring more EVs to more drivers, streamlining and simplifying the experience becomes crucial, especially when we support not only consumers but also fleets. So far, the EV experience has asked too much of drivers with serious friction points and compromises that will not only hinder but be a deterrent to mass adoption.
Our new station design allows us to decrease swap time from 10 to 5 minutes. Thanks to modular battery swapping, Ample stations extend that technology to be able to support both small passenger cars and large delivery trucks. Our new streamlined drive-through design is more user-friendly, safer and more delightful. A whole platform that raises the car allows passengers to come in and out of the car as a swap is in progress.
Our stations are now even faster to deploy, needing only 3 days to install, allowing us to bring up a whole metropolitan area in a few weeks. We deliver the station in a few pre-built sections to where a station will go up, and those are put together on-site, further simplifying the installation. And like our first-generation technology, deploying a station requires no digging. To support different demand levels at different locations, stations can be easily stacked so multiple vehicles can swap simultaneously at the same location.
We’ve also spent extensive time making the stations more robust for different environments as we scale up deployments in different cities with different climates. Our stations have been battle-tested to withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions. In parallel, we’ve continued to innovate on our shoebox-sized modular batteries, making them safer and smarter with the ability to be integrated into any modern EV. Along with the station, every component can be remotely monitored and controlled to ensure proper and efficient functioning.
We’re incredibly excited about this new chapter in our mission to make EVs accessible to all and we invite more car makers, fleets and cities to join us in the quest to electrify.