Ample from San Francisco brought the battery change of electric vehicles to the USA. The company was in stealth mode for seven years before recently launching five switching stations in the Bay Area. Uber drivers in the region are Ample’s first customers.
The concept is not new. A start-up called Better Place started an electric vehicle and battery replacement company after raising $ 850 million in venture funding. However, in 2013 it finally went bankrupt. Tesla also demonstrated battery replacement in 2013, but only opened one station for about a year. Elon Musk said Tesla owners weren’t interested.
Changing batteries is already common in China. The electric vehicle manufacturer Nio, for example, plans to double its network of switching stations to 500 this year and to open stations in Norway as part of its expansion into Europe.
Ample takes a different approach with modular batteries and a focus on fleets. CNBC got a peek inside its San Francisco headquarters and battery factory to see how the company plans to bring battery swapping into the mainstream.