Long charging times and a lack of public chargers are major concerns for potential electric car buyers, making the prospect of owning an electric vehicle (EV) less attractive. However, some startups are convinced that a fundamental overhaul of EV charging is necessary to make it more convenient and encourage higher adoption rates. Two promising solutions that are gaining traction are battery swapping and wireless EV charging.
San Francisco-based startup Ample believes that battery swapping is the answer to the long charging duration problem. Instead of waiting for a recharge, drivers can simply swap out their depleted battery for a fully charged one in just five minutes at one of Ample’s drive-through battery-swapping stations. This is a significant improvement over traditional fast-charging stations, which can take 30 minutes to an hour or more to provide a solid charge. Ample’s technology is already being used by some Uber drivers in California, and the company plans to focus on taxi, delivery, and car-rental fleets before targeting regular consumers. However, vehicles will need to be compatible with Ample’s modular, removable battery packs, which the company plans to achieve through partnerships with automakers.
Ample doesn’t only offer quick battery swaps but also a unique business model. Customers can purchase a battery-less vehicle and then subscribe to a battery service, reducing the upfront cost of going electric. Battery swapping also extends vehicle longevity by minimizing fast-charging sessions that can accelerate battery wear, and it enables owners to keep up with the latest advancements in battery technology. Chinese startup Nio has already been selling cars with swappable batteries in Asia and Europe for years, and recently, US EV startup Fisker announced plans to incorporate Ample’s technology into its Ocean SUV.
Another startup, Israel-based Electreon, believes that wireless charging is the key to addressing the challenges hindering the EV revolution. Electreon has successfully implemented wireless charging for public buses, and it aims to expand its wireless charging infrastructure further. The company’s CEO, Oren Ezer, believes that wireless charging can overcome the limitations of current charging infrastructure, limited driving range, and the need for large and expensive batteries. In Electreon’s vision, electrified bus stops, parking spots, and streets constantly charge vehicles, eliminating the need for long charging stops. To demonstrate the potential of dynamic wireless charging, Electreon successfully drove a Toyota RAV4 Prime for 100 hours straight without plugging in or using any gas, covering over 1,200 miles on a test track. Electreon’s roads, equipped with copper charging coils embedded in the asphalt, can even keep a vehicle’s battery topped up indefinitely, even at highway speeds.
While the prospect of widespread battery swapping and wireless charging infrastructure may still seem far off, these solutions offer promising alternatives to traditional EV charging. Ample and Electreon are working diligently to push these technologies forward and overcome the challenges that currently limit their implementation. With the support of automakers and continued advancements in battery and wireless charging technologies, these startups believe that a complete overhaul of EV charging is attainable, ultimately making EV ownership more convenient and accessible for all.