Automotive giant Stellantis–which owns no fewer than 14 car brands, including Fiat, Dodge, Jeep, and Opel–has partnered with California-based startup Ample to launch a fleet of city cars that can have their high-voltage batteries swapped in about five minutes.
The partnership will see 100 Fiat 500e EVs that operate within Stellantis’ Free2move car-sharing service be retrofitted with Ample’s modular batteries which can then be swapped on a module-by-module basis at the startup’s swap stations.
The initial program will launch in Madrid, Spain, in 2024, where Ample already has a presence. Furthermore, the two companies said in a joint statement that they’re working to integrate the tech in more Stellantis vehicles.
Gallery: 2024 Fiat 500e North American Launch
“The partnership with Ample is another example of how Stellantis is exploring all avenues that enable freedom of mobility for our electric vehicle customers,” said Ricardo Stamatti, Stellantis Senior Vice President, Charging & Energy Business Unit. “In addition to other projects we are focused on, Ample’s Modular Battery Swapping solution has the opportunity to offer our customers greater energy efficiency, outstanding performance, and lower range anxiety. We are looking forward to executing the initial program with our stellar Fiat 500e,” Stamatti added.
The cool thing about Ample’s modular batteries is that they can be individually swapped based on the driver’s needs, and the technology allows for the number of modules to be variable from one swap to another. For instance, a customer may only need 20 kilowatt-hours of battery for a day of driving around the city but then a bigger capacity can be installed for longer drives on the weekend.
Ample's second-generation battery swap station
“At Ample, we believe in the importance of making electric vehicles accessible to everyone without compromises, which is the only way that we will make a significant impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Stellantis’ ambitious electrification goals, its range of electric vehicles, and the commitment of its leadership make Stellantis a perfect partner in achieving our goals,” said Khaled Hassounah, CEO of Ample. “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.”
Ample modular batteries
Ample’s battery swap tech debuted in 2021 when the first stations popped up in California. Back then, the first-gen stations were capable of changing all the retrofitted battery modules with a freshly charged batch in about ten minutes.
But earlier this year, Ample launched its second-gen station which cuts the waiting time in half and adds other niceties like allowing the driver and passengers to get in and out of the car mid-swap. When the upgraded station was announced, the California startup said it planned to deploy about a dozen of them in the United States, Spain, and Tokyo, Japan.
While the latest-generation Fiat 500e is bound to arrive in the U.S., we’re not getting our hopes up that it will come with battery-swapping abilities anytime soon, at least for end-users. But for car-sharing programs like Stellantis’ Free2move, it might be a winner, cutting downtime and potentially increasing the company’s profits.