Will Battery Swap Stations Win Over Fiat Drivers?

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

  • Stellantis will offer battery swap capability in a fleet of Fiat 500e hatchbacks in Madrid, Spain, as part of a trial of battery swap station technology with station developer Ample.
  • A battery swap station can automatically switch out a depleted battery for a fully charged one in less than five minutes, making this an alternative to DC fast-charging.
  • The technology is gaining ground in China and in Europe, with automaker Nio having completed over 2200 such stations for its vehicles.

With EV charging infrastructure in North America and Europe still being a daily gamble, automakers are desperate to explore alternatives, including tech once practically written off as too elaborate. This includes battery swap stations, which are now starting to gain traction in Europe with automaker Nio’s cars.

Stellantis has a battery swap plan of its own in the works, revealing a deal with California’s Ample to introduce this feature to a fleet of Fiat 500e hatchbacks, which are already on sale in Europe.

The approach promises fully charged batteries in under five minutes, with a robotic system performing the swap underneath the car inside a swap station.

A fleet of 100 Fiats operating under Stellantis’ Free2Move car sharing network will be modified for Ample’s battery swap stations, which will all be located in Madrid, Spain. The stations themselves can be deployed in as little as three days, Ample says, and rely on a modular battery format developed by the company.

Once a compatible EV approaches an Ample station, the station’s system will recognize the car and let it enter. Drivers then initiate the swap via an app on their phone, with the entire process being done automatically.

The cars themselves can be charged the traditional way as well.

The new Fiat 500e should prove to be an excellent test case for Ample’s battery swap technology as part of Free2Move in Madrid, as it will allow drivers to recharge without hassle in the busy city.

Stellantis and Ample are also discussing other EVs and locations for the next step in this partnership.

“In addition to other projects we are focused on, Ample’s Modular Battery Swapping solution has the opportunity to offer our customers greater energy efficiency, outstanding performance and lower range anxiety,” said Ricardo Stamatti, Stellantis senior vice president of its charging and energy business unit.

The Fiat 500e will make it stateside in a matter of months, but the EVs won’t be compatible with Ample’s stations. At least not yet.

the track club

Stellantis isn’t the only western automaker betting on this technology. Fisker is on board as well.

Battery swap stations may have scared off automakers a decade ago with their infrastructure costs, but it appears that after installing over 2200 stations in China, the luxury EV maker Nio has demonstrated the potential of this tech at scale. Thirty stations for Nio vehicles are now open in Europe and more are on the way, with two other automakers having recently joined Nio’s EV swap standard.

Will battery swap stations take off as an alternative to DC fast-charging, or is this a niche technology that will mostly stay in China? Let us know what you think.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

Share This Article
Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
Leave a comment