Stellantis Bets on Battery Swapping

Legacy automaker Stellantis has partnered with battery swapping startup Ample in an effort to speed up electric vehicle charging times. The partners aim to enable a fully charged EV battery in under 5 minutes through Ample’s modular swapping stations. 

Initially targeting Stellantis’ carsharing fleet, the program will launch in Madrid in 2024 with 100 Fiat 500e EVs. According to the companies, the modular approach could later be expanded to other Stellantis models and regions. The quick-swap solution looks to address major pain points that hamper widespread consumer EV adoption like limited range and long recharge times.

Ample’s modular batteries are designed for easy vehicle integration without reengineering platforms. Swapping stations can also be erected in just 3 days, promising scalable and convenient driver access. While drivers would need to subscribe to the service, benefits include lower upfront vehicle cost, always updated batteries, and enhanced range.

Stellantis isn’t alone in exploring alternatives to fixed EV charging. Chinese electric carmaker Nio has invested heavily in its own battery swap network as a key differentiator, though mainly targeted at the Chinese market so far. But surging interest worldwide in faster recharging capabilities signals acknowledgement that today’s infrastructure cannot support a wholesale shift to electric transportation.

For both legacy automakers like Stellantis and EV pure plays like Nio, innovations must extend beyond the vehicles themselves. Success requires solutions allowing EVs to mimic the refueling experience and convenience that drivers have come to expect from gas cars over the past century. Whether swapping succeeds remains to be seen, but the evolving partnerships show it merits consideration in solving the charging riddle holding back mass EV adoption.

With battery costs falling dramatically and charging times now a chief limitation, battery swap stations could carve an important niche in the broader charging ecosystem. As Stellantis’ plans demonstrate, quick-swap solutions mesh nicely with large corporate fleets ready to take a chance on new technologies. If these early use cases pay dividends, individual owners down the road are likely to benefit as innovations mature and achieve scale.

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