Ample raises $30M to take battery swapping business to Europe

Ample, a startup developing battery swapping technology for electric vehicles, has scored another $30 million from The Blackstone Group and Spanish multinational financial services company Banco Santander.

The San Francisco-based company should be at or near unicorn status, considering its valuation back in August was $890 million, according to PitchBook. Unicorn status means a company that is valued at $1 billion.

The bulk of this round came from The Blackstone Group, who provided $25 million, with Banco providing the remainder. Ample has raised $260 million to date.

Ample’s concept is relatively straightforward: instead of an EV pulling up to a charging station to get more power, the company proposes outfitting vehicles with Ample’s modular battery packs, which can be swapped out at dedicated stations.

Earlier this year, Ample landed a partnership with Uber to use the company’s battery swapping stations at a few locations in the Bay Area. Both companies have agreed to extend their partnership to Europe, where Uber aims to electrify half the rides that are booked across seven European capitals — London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon — by 2025.

Ample co-founder John de Souza told TechCrunch in a statement that the funding will go toward scaling operations. “In order to deploy tens of thousands of vehicles in the near future, we will need to expand our production, deployment and support functions,” he said. “Geographically we will be expanding into Europe next year. The need for scale is being driven both by the market demand and also by the urgency of moving to EVs that was clearly highlighted at COP26.”

Ample also scored a partnership with Sally, an EV rental company based in New York City, to deploy the startup’s swapping service across San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Taken together, the two initial partnerships — Uber and Sally — reflect the startup’s focus on fleet companies, for whom time spent recharging an EV battery is time wasted. Ample sees battery swapping as a good solution for individual consumers as well, especially those like apartment dwellers who may not have reliable access to overnight charging, the company has told TechCrunch in the past.