Stellantis has high hopes for replacement batteries for electric vehicles, the first being the Fiat 500e
December 9, 2023

Stellantis has high hopes for replacement batteries for electric vehicles, the first being the Fiat 500e

Stellar has reached an agreement with the company Amplewhich is based in California and deals in replacement batteries for electric vehicles, to power a fleet of shared vehicles Fiat 500e in Spain. However, the company says the agreement could be expanded to include privately owned electric vehicles in both Europe and the US.

Making this move one of the first Western automakers to embrace replacement technology battery, Stellantis is betting that electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Europe and the US will remain a barrier to adoption in the near future, requiring other solutions. Battery replacement can theoretically help electric vehicle owners to continue their journey as soon as possible, without waiting for a long time to charge.

Stellantis to collaborate with Ample to launch battery swap system for Fiat 500e fleet as part of sharing service electric cars through its subsidiary Free2move. The service will first be available in Madrid in 2024. Ample already has four stations in operation in the city and plans to build nine more stations in the coming months.

Stellantis will have to install modular batteries in the Fiat 500e

Battery swapping for electric vehicles is popular in China, but has yet to gain significant support in other countries. There have been several attempts to build a replacement system in the US, most famously by Tesla five years ago, but without much success.

Stellantis will need to install modular batteries in the Fiat 500e to make them compatible with Ample’s battery swap system, reports The Verge. The process works by the vehicle entering the station, where it rises slightly. Ample’s robots remove the dead battery from under the vehicle, replace it with a fully charged one, and then lower the vehicle. The company claims that the entire process can take as little as five minutes.

Our system knows how many batteries the Fiat 500e has, it knows how to extract each of those modules and put them back in the same arrangement“, said Khaled Hassounah, CEO of Ample, at a press briefing.

Starting with a small fleet of shared vehicles in one city will help Stellantis see how well the Ample system works and whether it can expand to new markets and include private vehicles. If the company decides to expand its partnership with Ample, the Fiat 500e will likely be the first vehicle to support the technology, said Ricardo Stamatti, senior vice president of charging and energy at Stellantis.

“By 2030, the goal is to electrify the world and bring mobility to everyone,” said Stamatti. “This speeds it up. It’s a catalyst.”

Buyers of vehicles compatible with Ample’s battery replacement system would simply subscribe to the battery, opening up a new revenue stream for Stellantis. “We believe that this is actually an infrastructure project that can and will continue to develop,” Stamatti added.

In North America, unlike China, electric vehicles still make up a small percentage of total vehicle sales. Plug-in vehicles account for more than a quarter of all vehicles sold in China, while in the US they are still below 10 percent. Because of this, the economics of replacing batteries for electric vehicles haven’t quite worked out in the US so far.

Another challenge is the lack of standardization of batteries. Each car manufacturer uses a different type of package and different chemistries. Ample’s stations can only replace its own modular batteries, but the company claims these batteries are compatible with any electric vehicle. Modular batteries are configured on an adapter that is a replacement for the original battery of the electric vehicle.

Hassounah said that it would not require “re-engineering of the vehicle itself“. The company was recently granted $15 million from the state of California to build a factory to manufacture replaceable batteries.

Stellantis thinks the future is bright when it comes to fast battery replacement, but Stamatti said that “the devil lies in the details“. What he meant by that remains to be seen.