Ample is a new electric vehicle charging system which works by having robots quickly replace small modular battery packs in electric cars, getting them back on the road in a few minutes, comparable to the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Unlike prior efforts at developing EV battery swapping technologies, Ample’s system is lower cost, more flexible and most importantly is aimed at commercial fleets and taxis, not ordinary drivers.
Even before Electric cars hit the mainstream vehicle market, it was long known that the Achilles Heel of EVs would be charge time for batteries. It is one thing to have an EV as a commuter vehicle that can be easily charged at home, but range and charge time are a legitimate concern for long distance travel in EVs. The convenience of refilling gas powered cars in minutes compared to the time required to charge the battery of an EV has left many car buyers leery of making the switch away from combustion engine vehicles.
This has so far not slowed the momentum and popularity of EVs, particularly Tesla’s, which have the longest range along with a rapidly expanding network of EV supercharger stations. With its long-range batteries and quick charge time, Tesla is a very realistic option for those who do a lot of road trips, but it is still significantly more time consuming than refilling a gas tank.
What Ample is bringing to the table is a system for swapping out batteries rather than recharging them. Similar to the way you would exchange an empty BBQ propane tank for a full one, you would drive into a charging station where the battery in your EV would be robotically removed and replaced with a full one. This process shortens the ‘charge time’ required for EVs from sometimes hours, to just minutes.
The technology to exchange car batteries rather than charge them has been tried before but failed to get traction. Ample’s system is low cost and flexible, and most importantly is not currently aimed at the general population of EVs but is intended for vehicle fleets.
Ample is partnering with Uber to make this happen, and they have secured over $70 million in private investment. Ample currently has 2 charging stations in San Francisco that services Uber’s fleet, and they expect to bring their technology to the mainstream EV market within a few years.
The company's CEO, Khaled Hassounah, describes the battery replacement system as being similar to "Lego blocks.", and the amount of battery modules the car needs depends on the vehicles size. Modules can adapt to fit several different vehicles makes.
The system is also entirely autonomous. Customers pay for the service using an app system and won’t even need to get out of their vehicles, according to Hassounah. You simply drive in and the station automatically identifies the vehicle and robots perform the swap.
The company’s President, John de Souza, says the goal is to make electric cars as accessible as possible by making it a realistic option for long distance travel without lengthy waits for roadside charging.
"Electric cars shouldn't have to be subsidized by the government or come at a huge personal cost," de Souza told Insider. "It has to be more convenient than gas so it becomes a no-brainer for people to say, 'Why wouldn't I switch?"
Transportation and climate change
It is no secret that the world is facing a climate emergency, but solutions are on the way. Many advances in Low-Carbon construction, such as carbon negative concrete and a move towards net zero energy housing are helping reduce emissions in the built environment. The transportation industry is not as easy to switch, but advances such as long range EVs and innovative charging solutions such as Ample is offering are making it a much easier decision to switch away from combustion engine vehicles to zero-emissions vehicles, and we are always happy to hear and spread such news.
Now you know charging options for electric vehicles, learn more about EV's, E-Bikes, energy efficiency and how to reduce the carbon footprint of transport choices on the following pages and in the EcoHome Green Building Guide.
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