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ABB E-mobility Terra 184 charger at Circle K in Wytheville, Virginia. Image provided by Circle K.

Clean Transport

Fisker & Circle K Show Us That EV Charging & Battery Swapping Continue To Compete

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Battery swapping and DC fast charging are two distinct methods for addressing the charging needs of electric vehicles (EVs). Each method has its own advantages, offering unique solutions to overcome challenges in the EV ecosystem.

Battery swapping involves replacing an EV’s depleted battery with a fully charged one. This approach can significantly reduce wait times for drivers, as swapping batteries typically takes only a few minutes, similar to the time it takes to refuel an ICE vehicle. Battery swapping stations can also optimize their charging process to prolong battery life, as they can charge batteries at a slower rate when demand is low. And, with battery swapping, EV owners can avoid concerns related to battery degradation, since they receive a fully charged, well-maintained battery during each swap. This is also great for people who don’t have access to charging at home, as they can refuel fast just like an ICE.

On the other hand, DC fast charging allows EV drivers to charge their vehicles rapidly by connecting them directly to a high-capacity power source. The advantage of this method is that it eliminates the need for battery swapping infrastructure and allows for seamless integration into existing charging networks. DC fast charging is more suitable than Level 2 for long-distance travel, as it enables EV drivers to recharge their vehicles quickly during short breaks. Additionally, as battery technology improves and charging speeds increase, DC fast charging becomes even more convenient for users.

Truth be told, both battery swapping and DC fast charging offer valuable solutions for EV charging. As you can see, they both offer some serious advantages and can even complement each other.

So, it was great to see two announcements earlier this month showing us that both of these approaches are alive and well. At least in the United States, battery swapping has been pretty dead since Tesla abandoned it (and allegedly used it to suck up some government money in an unethical way), but that doesn’t mean it can’t come back.

Fisker’s Partnering With Ample To Give Battery Swapping A Chance

In early May, a significant partnership was announced between Ample and Fisker to deliver electric vehicles (EVs) powered by Ample’s innovative battery technology. This collaboration plays a crucial role in Fisker’s long-term strategy, aiming to expand its reach and adoption of EVs across the United States and Europe.

“Our partnership with Ample will enable us to broaden the vehicle use case for our customers,” Henrik Fisker, Chairman and CEO of Fisker Inc. said. “We’re thrilled to offer Ample’s innovative battery-swapping system, which will bring a new level of affordability to the Fisker Ocean and potentially to the other vehicles we intend to bring to market in the future.”

The intended clientele for Fisker’s Ample-equipped electric vehicles consists of fleet operators seeking a seamless shift to electric transportation without financial or functional setbacks. Ample’s innovative approach enables swift implementation of EV infrastructure, allowing Fisker to expand its reach into broader markets more quickly. Both Fisker and Ample will jointly receive earnings associated with the battery exchange system.

“We’re incredibly excited about our relationship with Fisker. They’ve developed best-in-class EVs that our team is proud to support,” said Khaled Hassounah, Co-founder and CEO of Ample. “We’re looking forward to assisting with making the Fisker Ocean available to a wide segment of customers as a part of our goal to bring more EVs on the road.”

In their joint press release, the companies were eager to point out that battery swapping presents motorists with energy delivery as swift as gasoline and at a reduced cost per mile. For those considering a switch to electric vehicles, speed and affordability are crucial factors, especially for high-mileage drivers like those in the ride-hailing sector. With the recent announcement, drivers can anticipate a fusion of exceptional design and cost-effectiveness in the Fisker Ocean, utilizing cutting-edge battery technology, eliminating concerns about range or charging anxiety.

Collaborative development between Ample and Fisker has commenced, aiming to offer battery-swappable Fisker Ocean vehicles by the first quarter of 2024.

Circle K Is Going With Even Faster DCFC

But, the possible resurgence of battery swapping doesn’t mean that the industry is prepared to back off on DCFC stations, and Circle K shows us that this is the case.

A recent addition to the gas and convenience store chain is a new EV charging station in Wytheville, Virginia, situated near its store on Interstate 81 at State Highway 121. This location is the first to feature ABB E-mobility’s US-made Terra 184 DC fast chargers, delivering up to 180 kW of power to motorists.

According to Circle K and ABB, The Terra 184 “all-in-one” EV chargers by ABB E-mobility were the inaugural products from the company’s South Carolina manufacturing facility and have received ENERGY STAR certification. Ideally suited for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) charging sites, the Terra 184 chargers can be ordered and will adhere to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Buy America Act regulations. Incorporating these new chargers amplifies Wytheville’s fast-charging capacity by over 20 percent, reflecting Circle K and ABB E-mobility’s joint dedication to delivering essential charging infrastructure to communities of all sizes throughout the United States.

“With demonstrated experience in EV charging in our European markets and a coast-to-coast network of well-located stores here in the U.S., we are well positioned to participate in the accelerated growth of EV charging infrastructure across the country and meet the evolving needs of our customers,” said Snorre Skeie, Director of E-Mobility, North America, for Circle K. “We are very pleased to make it easier for EV customers in Wytheville and throughout Southwestern Virginia by filling this gap in charging availability along the I-77/81 corridor, and we are proud to celebrate this opening with ABB E-mobility as they roll out their first Terra 184 chargers manufactured here in the U.S.”

The Wytheville Circle K represents one of the 200 planned EV charging stations across North America, set to be launched by Circle K’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., before 2024. Boasting over 1,400 fast chargers at 300 sites in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, Circle K has already established itself as a frontrunner in public EV charging solutions in Europe.

Featured image: ABB E-mobility Terra 184 charger at Circle K in Wytheville, Virginia. Image provided by Circle K.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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