Ten-minute charge times for EV vehicles seem silly, right? Well, one California startup company believes they have solved the riddle to "range anxiety." My initial reaction was, who are they, and what is it they are doing? In this article, I will reveal all of that.
Is 10 Minute Charge Time Possible?
The short answer to this question is yes, a 10 minute charge time with an acceptable range is possible, though it is not currently viable.
Along with other companies, Samsung and Toyota have placed a lot of time and effort into the research and development of solid-state battery technology. While there are currently no commercial options for solid-state, Toyota believes it will be a viable solution by as early as 2025.
However, this other company in California has a different idea. Ample, a company based in San Francisco, says their game plan for modular battery swapping is the new beginning in EV fueling stations.
Who Is Ample And What Is Their Game Plan?
Ample is a tech company in San Francisco (big surprise) that wants to have EV battery swap stations and help bring 1 billion EV cars onto the road.
One of the hurdles that we currently face with EV cars is the charge time. Tesla Motors now has the best charging network of any EV platform but still requires a solid 30 minutes or more to get a decent range.
I was skeptical (and still am a little bit), but after reading up on their website about what they plan to do, I have changed my mind. Their six steps to making this possible makes sense, and starting in large population-dense areas would allow for an income stream for branching out.
Step 1: The Fastest Way To A Full Charge
With a battery swap, you get a battery that is complete and ready to go. All charged, no gimmicks. The time it takes to fill a car with gasoline and get back on the road averages about 10 minutes (unless you drive a Prius as I do).
The idea that you can be back out on the road pounding pavement in 10 minutes is impressive. The thought of long drawn out charge times becomes a thing of the past. It makes sense that with current battery technology, a swap is the best solution to a long-term problem.
Step 2: As Cheap As Gas
If you are talking about the current overpriced gasoline we are buying at around $5 a gallon down in San Fran, yes, I could see how it could be cheaper than gasoline.
Ample claims a swap station is 3 to 10 times cheaper to build than a fast-charging station. With that in mind, the cost savings, according to Ample, would be 10 to 20% less than gas.
I am not sure what voodoo magic math formula they are using here, so, unfortunately, I cannot extract the data required to see how they are making this claim.
Step 3: For Any Electric Vehicle
Ample says their technology is modular and swappable. You would have to be very flexible in this realm, or you could end up with many nonusable parts.
I trust that a company making claims such as these has a solid game plan. I will lay out all my concerns here with each step at the end.
Step 4: Network In Weeks
Fast, deployable, scalable setup. According to Ample, their site up requires no construction. All of their sites can be scaled and set up in a matter of weeks.
This idea is fascinating to me, and I would very much like to see how it works. Ample team, if you end up reading this, contact me so we can talk more.
Step 5: Renewable Energy
I think this is where Ample could make serious headway. The way we gather electricity will be fundamental in keep costs to a minimum. Their plan involves recharging batteries using solar and wind (when available, of course).
They say this will help in filling the gap to a zero-carbon emissions future. I like the positivity they have going on.
Step 6: Future Improvements
A significant and current issue we face is the rapid improvements in battery tech. As battery technology improves, so will your car. I think this can be a massive problem solver if done right.
Ample has to understand how quickly battery tech is improving and understand the importance of a flexible system that can grow with the market.
My thoughts on this Ample startup are better than they were initially. I believe that they have thought through some of the core challenges, but they need more time.
Ample could work. I think the focus has to be on major metro areas that have a concentrated EV population. If their goal is to see one billion EV's on the road, they have much work to do.
I feel that they have a great idea and a seemingly good initial plan here. I am sure getting funding should not be challenging given the area Ample is based. If they can establish a good working relationship (one of my superpowers) with companies like Tesla, the likelihood of success will increase significantly.
I hope that Ample has taken the time to thoroughly review the swap techniques for as many EV cars out there as they can. I hope they know that each battery will bring unique challenges with coolant and having a properly refilled system after the swaps. I hope they can be successful.
For and EVs to be mainstream, we have to solve complex problems like what Ample is proposing. After all, Elon Musk did something I never thought we would ever see.
My argument against all of this is that Tesla has thought about battery swaps before and even done it live. Why are we not seeing more battery swap places already?
That is all for today. Remember Today's Adventure is Tomorrow's Story. I look forward to seeing you in future articles.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporter.