San Francisco startup Ample is bringing its modular electric vehicle battery swapping technology to Mitsubishi Fuso’s electric trucks this winter, the company said Tuesday. This marks the first time Ample’s technology is being used for large vehicles. The company’s technology is currently being used on a small scale for ride-hail vehicles in San Francisco and Madrid.
The partnership with Mitsubishi builds on Ample’s work with Japanese energy company Eneos to deploy swapping infrastructure for fleets to use. Ample wouldn’t say how many swapping stations would be coming to Japan this winter, but it will be “more than one station” for the initial deployment in Kyoto.
Ample’s tech will be going into Mitsubishi’s Fuso eCanter, a light commercial truck. It’s not clear how many trucks will have Ample’s vehicle-agnostic batteries, nor which fleet partners have signed on. An Ample spokesperson told TechCrunch the initial fleets will be used for last-mile delivery.
The startup says its next-generation swapping stations have improved from earlier models and can change out a battery in five minutes. With DC fast charging, it could take a car anywhere from 15 minutes to nearly an hour to get a full charge.
Ample’s moves in Japan come after the company recently launched two stations in Madrid, and says it’s in the process of deploying more. The company is working with Moove, a Madrid-based mobility fleet that provides ridesharing vehicles on the Uber platform. Ample recently received a €10 million grant from the Spanish government to assist with expanding the deployment.
EV battery swapping hasn’t gotten much of a foothold in the U.S., where most of the innovation is directed at charging stations. But in other parts of the world, like China, battery swapping is becoming more popular. Beijing is supporting a few companies that are advancing the technology as part of its broader plan to ensure 25% of all cars sold by 2025 are electric.
Chinese EV maker Nio, for example, has already been building out stations and in March started trialing a more efficient type of station that can store up to 21 battery packs and swap in less than five minutes. Nio has a target of reaching 2,300 battery swapping stations globally by the end of 2023.