Battery swapping is an old idea with a troubled history. Better Place, an Israeli startup that was a promising early promoter of EVs, made battery swapping a centerpiece of its strategy—it went bust in 2013. Tesla demonstrated a swapping system for Model S in 2013, but dropped the technology in 2015. Chinese EV startup NIO brought the idea back from the dead, and in June 2020, the company announced that it had installed 131 battery swap stations in 58 cities across China.
San Francisco-based Ample has been developing its battery swapping technology for over seven years, and currently operates several swap stations in the Bay Area, specifically for Uber drivers. Now the company has raised $160 million in a Series C funding round led by Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from existing investors Shell Ventures and the Japanese petroleum company ENEOS.
The latest round brings the company’s total funding to $230 million. Ample will use the new funding to scale its swapping technology across the US and to other parts of the globe.
Ample says its system “can easily work with any EV design. It can act as a drop-in replacement for the original battery design. We have already integrated into many existing platforms by working closely with automakers. The process of getting a new car on the Ample platform takes 2-3 months. Your EV can still support the original battery since the same vehicle design can support both offerings.”
The company says it has seen “great excitement and demand for our technology from both fleet managers and car manufacturers.”
Since Ample emerged from stealth mode in March, in addition to its ongoing work with Uber, it has announced a collaboration with ENEOS, as well as a partnership with NYC-based fleet provider Sally.