Fisker Is Betting Big on This New Battery Technology
EV maker Fisker teams up with developer Ample to create battery packs for the Ocean that can be swapped automatically.
Fisker plans to roll out versions of the Ocean with swappable batteries for fleets in the first quarter of 2024.
The first customer example of the Ocean was delivered on May 5, after Magna began production of the electric SUV in Europe.
Fisker handed over the first customer example of the Ocean SUV earlier this month, kicking off the start of deliveries in Europe. The electric SUV, produced by Magna in Austria, is the first in a new line of Fisker models, with US deliveries scheduled to start soon.
While the engineering behind the Ocean seems relatively settled for the moment, the EV maker is already planning an unexpected innovation—battery swapping ability.
It wasn't too long ago that this technology was predicted to be a fairly normal feature for cars. In practice, so far only Chinese automaker Nio has developed it to scale, with hundreds of automated battery-swap stations resembling drive-through car washes, even recently opening the first such station in Europe.
Now, Fisker plans to add this feature to future variants of the Ocean SUV, and rather soon, thanks to a partnership with battery module specialist Ample.
The EV maker shared an image of the first such battery swap station built by Ample, which could automatically remove and install an EV battery in just minutes.
This feature isn't headed for privately owned Ocean SUVs, however—Fisker intends to offer it first for fleets.
"The initial target customer for Fisker's Ample-powered EVs will be fleet operators who are looking for transition to electric mobility without economic or operational compromises," the EV maker said. "Ample's technology makes it possible to rapidly deploy EV infrastructure so that Fisker can make its vehicles available to larger markets on a faster timetable. Fisker and Ample will share revenue relative to the battery swapping mechanism."
As that last sentence makes clear, the battery swap technology won't be your least expensive method of recharging an EV, as the hardware required for just one station is considerable.
Fisker and Ample are betting that fleets may want to have this as an option to speed up vehicle turnarounds, for example in rental fleets, as an alternative to DC fast-charging or Level 2 charging. Infrastructure requirements for such stations also tend to favor scale, as privately owned Ocean SUVs will take some time to saturate a given metro area.
A rental fleet with Ocean SUVs, on the other hand, will be swapping batteries and charging them pretty much non-stop.
"Our partnership with Ample will enable us to broaden the vehicle use case for our customers," said Henrik Fisker, chairman and CEO of Fisker Inc.
The EV maker plans to introduce the first Ocean SUV built with a compatible battery system in the first quarter of 2024, but hasn't revealed just yet the fleet customers it might have lined up.
Will battery swap station technology take off in the US, or is this an extravagance that few will be willing to pay for? Let us know what you think.