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    7201   JP3672400003

NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.

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California startup touts battery-swapping to juice demand for electric vehicles

03/03/2021 | 12:05pm EDT
Startup touts battery swapping to juice electric vehicle demand

(Reuters) - Ample, a seven-year-old San Francisco startup, wants to skirt one of the big hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles by reviving the idea of quick, automated battery swaps for owners concerned about running out of juice while driving.

The main benefits, according to co-founders Khaled Hassounah and John de Souza, are time and cost savings. EV owners would no longer face long lines and wait times at charging stations. And the cost of the modular batteries that Ample has developed could be amortized over longer periods of time, which in turn could lower the initial cost of an electric vehicle, much of which currently is tied to the battery pack.

Hassounah, Ample's chief executive, and de Souza, president, said their system can replace a depleted battery with a fully charged one in less than 10 minutes, using an automated process that "works with any electric vehicle," at a cost "as cheap as gasoline."

Despite Ample's bold business model, the road blocks to success are many.

The concept of battery swapping was tried more than 10 years ago, with great fanfare and lots of funding, by Israeli startup Better Place. The company raised - and eventually burned through - more than $800 million before closing its doors in 2013 after failing to convince enough vehicle manufacturers to embrace its concept.

Ample, which faces competition from at least six startups with similar strategies, has raised $55 million from such backers as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Spain's Repsol SA, according to investor website PitchBook.

Although Tesla Inc initially tested, then withdrew, a plan to offer battery swapping to customers, EV maker Nio Inc lets customers swap batteries at some 200 locations in China. Honda Motor Co Ltd has partnered with Yamaha Motor Co Ltd and scooter maker Piaggio to develop swappable batteries for light electric vehicles.

Automakers also are rolling out vehicles with improved battery packs that provide longer range between charges, as well as shorter charge times, which could make battery swapping obsolete.

A greater impediment may be that automakers including Tesla and General Motors Co already have or are working on proprietary battery systems, and are likely uninterested in redesigning their vehicles to accommodate Ample's modular batteries.

Hassounah said Ample is working with four of the world's 10 largest automakers, but declined to identify them. The company also has partnered with Uber Technologies Inc in San Francisco, swapping batteries in Nissan Leafs.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

By Paul Lienert


© Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. -0.12% 3326 End-of-day quote.15.59%
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. -1.06% 576.1 End-of-day quote.2.88%
PIAGGIO & C. SPA 0.40% 3.5 Delayed Quote.29.82%
TESLA, INC. 0.13% 739.78 Delayed Quote.4.83%
YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD. 0.74% 2843 End-of-day quote.35.12%
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Financials
Sales 2021 7 675 B 70 533 M 70 533 M
Net income 2021 -459 299 M -4 221 M -4 221 M
Net Debt 2021 5 930 B 54 497 M 54 497 M
P/E ratio 2021 -4,90x
Yield 2021 -
Capitalization 2 254 B 20 715 M 20 718 M
EV / Sales 2021 1,07x
EV / Sales 2022 0,94x
Nbr of Employees 136 134
Free-Float 45,6%
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Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 19
Average target price 642,35 JPY
Last Close Price 576,10 JPY
Spread / Highest target 157%
Spread / Average Target 11,5%
Spread / Lowest Target -42,7%
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Managers and Directors
NameTitle
Makoto Uchida Executive President & Chief Executive Officer
Stephen Ma Chief Financial Officer & Executive Officer
Yasushi Kimura Chairman
Anthony Thomas Chief Information Officer
Ashwani Gupta COO & Representative Executive Officer
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