• Tech Tech

These electric car-charging 'gas stations' could solve one of the biggest problems with EVs: '20% cheaper than gas'

"When you run out of charge, you just stop somewhere for five minutes."

battery-swapping electric vehicles

Photo Credit: iStock

One of the most popular criticisms of electric vehicle (EV) use is starting to lose power, thanks in part to a commonsense concept: battery swapping.

It's a technique that power tool users have been utilizing for decades with a simple premise: if the battery is dead, switch it for a charged one. This addresses concerns about wasting time waiting for charging. 

"The idea is that when you run out of charge, you just stop somewhere for five minutes and you drive off with 100% charge," Ample founder Khaled Hassounah told Forbes. 

His company is operating 12 swapping stations in California with plans to expand, Forbes reported.

The charging stations resemble carwash garages in appearance. EVs pull in, and an automated process can replace the battery in under five minutes, according to Ample's website. What's more, the stations harness wind and solar power when they can, turning the natural resources into power for EVs. 

"[W]e do it at a cost that's cheaper than gas, so we already today can be 20% cheaper than gas, while giving you a gas station-like experience with a fully electric solution," Hassounah told Forbes. 

Ample has a subscription model, Forbes reported, where riders buy the amount of charge needed for their upcoming drive. 

This isn't the first time a company has tried a battery-swapping business. Forbes reported that Better Place went bankrupt about 10 years ago with a swap concept. 

But the idea is being jump-started out west, and the stations are popular with the rideshare industry. 

"[A new state standard] will require 90% of vehicle miles traveled by rideshare fleets in California to be in zero-emission vehicles by 2030, with interim targets beginning in 2023," Seth Smith, Uber's public policy manager, wrote in a piece that was cited by Forbes. 

Hassounah told Forbes in February that Ample was integrated with seven EV makers. Because of its battery pack's design, the company claims that the technology can be added to any EV platform with no modification. 

Emerging EV maker Fisker is working with Ample to help this tech go mainstream. TheStreet reported that the two companies plan to have battery-swap ability built into the 2024 Fisker Ocean. The Ocean made headlines earlier this year for having solar panels on the roof that are claimed to add 1,500 miles of driving range a year. 

The collaboration between Ample and Fisker is meant to target drivers who travel more than most people and who have yet to embrace EVs, TheStreet reported

And as more EVs enter the market, battery reuse is important. The Guardian reported that 12 million tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to go dead by 2030. 

Ample, Fisker, and other companies embracing pack-swapping could provide a way to make EVs more accessible while also getting maximum use out of batteries.  

"We've built our technology in a way that allows us to make the stations very, very inexpensive, so we can deploy them quickly," Hassounah told Forbes.

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider