Aug 19 (Reuters) - Ample, a San Francisco-based developer of
swappable electric vehicle (EV) batteries, has raised $160
million in a new funding round, the company said on Thursday.
The company has developed a battery for EVs and an automated
process for quickly swapping out depleted batteries for newly
charged packs, according to founders Khaled Hassounah and John
The Series C round brings to $230 million the total raised
by the seven-year-old startup, which plans to expand testing and
deployment to New York City, then Madrid and Singapore,
Hassounah said in an interview.
"We've been saying for the past few months that this
technology is ready for prime time, so now we intend to prove
it" by expanding the fledgling service to more cities and
drivers, he said.
Long charging times that are common at most public and
commercial charging stations have dampened consumer and fleet
demand for electric vehicles.
Ample is part of a growing group of companies, including
Chinese EV makers Nio and Xpeng, trying to
revive and update an old idea: Leapfrog charging hurdles by
offering quick battery swaps to EV owners concerned about
running out of juice while driving.
Unlike the Chinese carmakers, Ample aims to make its
batteries and swapping process more widely available to
Hassounah and de Souza say their process can replace a
depleted battery with a fully charged one in less than 10
minutes, using an automated process that "works with any
electric vehicle" at a cost "as cheap as gasoline."
Ample's financial backers include corporate investors Shell
and Repsol as well as energy providers such as
Japans Eneos and Thailands PTT.
Automated battery swap "could solve a big problem" for
energy companies and commercial operators that are moving their
fleets to electric power and cannot afford downtime for extended
charging, de Souza said.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by David Holmes)