Battery swapping in a Fiat 500? Full charge in five minutes!

Modular charging stations developed by start-up company Ample can be set up anywhere in just three days

Fiat 500 in an Ample battery swapping station

Stellantis – the automotive goliath behind brands such as Fiat, Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen – has found a way to get a full charge into its electric cars in “less than five minutes” using  innovative battery-swapping technology.

It’s all made possible by modular batteries developed by San Francisco-based start-up Ample and the two companies are now working together to integrate the potentially game-changing battery tech into Stellantis’s range of EVs, which currently include cars like the Fiat 500 and Jeep Avenger.

Ample’s modular cells have been designed as a drop-in replacement for any EV’s original battery, meaning Stellantis won’t have to reengineer any of its platforms or its cars. And being so flexible, Ample’s technology allows for varying battery sizes, created simply by swapping in a different number of battery modules as needed.

Stellantis is planning to offer Ample’s battery technology on a subscription basis, which it says will reduce the total upfront cost of the cars. Furthermore, it says drivers who opt for it will always have the latest battery technology available to them. 

Ample has also developed its own lightweight battery-swapping station, which can be installed in public areas in just three days. And even the stations are modular, so can feature one or more ‘pods’ where vehicles have their batteries swapped out, growing to meet customer demand. 

Stellantis says the experience is “as fast and convenient as refuelling with gas”, with Ample-enabled EVs recognised by the station when they get close, before the driver initiates the battery swap from an app on their smartphone.

Stellantis is starting small with its rollout of this technology, with a pilot programme involving 100 electric Fiat 500s within its Free2move car sharing service. The trial is scheduled to begin next year in Madrid, Spain. 

Khaled Hassounah, CEO of Ample, said when announcing the partnership with Stellantis: “The combination of offering compelling electric vehicles that can also receive a full charge in less than five minutes will help remove the remaining impediments to electric vehicle adoption. We look forward to working with Stellantis to deploy our joint solution across communities around the world.”

Stellantis and Ample aren’t the first companies to bring battery swap technology to Europe however, as Chinese carmaker NIO has already built around 30 of its ‘Power Swap’ stations on the continent. But that’s just a fraction of the more than 2,000 battery swap stations it operates worldwide, mainly in China. 

The technology has also caught the eye of GeelyLotus, Volvo and Polestar’s parent company – who recently signed a technical agreement with NIO to share its innovative battery-swapping functionality for future products.

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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