Battery swap startup Ample hits unicorn status with new funding round

By Paul Lienert

(Reuters) - Ample, the San Francisco startup focused on electric vehicle battery swapping, has raised another $50 million, the company said on Wednesday, in a round led by Blackstone.

The latest funding comes on the heels of a $160 million round in August that boosted the company’s valuation to $890 million, according to investor website PitchBook. Ample is now valued at more than $1 billion, according to a source familiar with the financing.

The seven-year-old company has raised more than $275 million from a deep roster of investors, including the venture arms of global energy companies Royal Dutch Shell, Repsol and Eneos, according to PitchBook. The latest round was joined by Banco Santander.

Ample has partnered with ride services company Uber, offering battery swapping services initially to Uber drivers in California, with plans to expand the partnership to Europe. It also is entering the Japanese market in partnership with Eneos.

Ample operates automated swapping stations which it says can replace a depleted battery with a fully charged one in less than 10 minutes -- far less time than it takes the typical EV battery pack to recharge.

The battery swapping concept is not new. Although Tesla Inc initially tested, then withdrew, a plan to offer battery swapping to customers, EV maker Nio Inc lets customers swap batteries at more than 200 locations in China. Honda Motor Co has partnered with Yamaha Motor Co Ltd and scooter maker Piaggio to develop swappable batteries for light electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -

Reuters Japan United States Asia Europe Spain Italy US Netherlands