Shell, the major British–Dutch multinational oil and gas company, has been leading several efforts having to do electric cars as it sees the auto industry transition to electric propulsion affecting its business.
Now the oil giant Shell is leading an investment in a startup with the goal to make ‘Electric Cars for Everyone’ with a new charging technology.
Shell’s VC arm Shell Ventures confirmed that it is leading a $31 million Series A round of financing in Ample, which describes itself as “a technology company focused on solving the energy delivery challenge for electric cars.”
The startup is still very much in stealth mode and not much is known about its technology, but they have released broad details about what they are working on in a press release for the announcement of the round of investment:
“Ample has invented an economical, rapidly deployable and widely accessible platform that delivers a full charge to any electric car in minutes. An alternative to traditional charging, Ample uses autonomous robotics and smart-battery technology, making it feasible for anyone to own an electric car regardless of driving needs, economic means, or geographic location.”
The startup was founded by Khaled Hassounah and John de Souza, two engineers who originally co-founded the online health community MedHelp.
Hassounah, who is now CEO at Ample, commented:
“Building a scalable solution for charging electric vehicles requires a new approach to infrastructure, and partners who are committed to developing electrification as the new energy downstream,”
Steve McGrath, Investment Director of Shell Ventures, commented on their investment in the company:
“EVs in the light – and medium duty sectors are steadily gaining market share. Combining Ample’s technology with Shell’s existing retail network for re-fueling and our growing position in power could help us achieve our aspirations to grow a large new business in EV energy solutions.”
Moore Strategic Ventures, Repsol Energy Ventures, Hemi Ventures, and TRIREC, have all also participated in the investment round led by Shell.
Oil companies have been increasingly interested in renewable energy and electric vehicle charging as they start to see electric vehicles slowly taking over the car industry.
Shell is arguably leading the charge through its involvement in the new Ionity charging network in Europe. The company is building its own chargers at its own gas stations, and recently acquired a charging network with over 30,000 chargers.
And now with their new investment in this cryptic EV charging infrastructure startup.
Update: Some information the company submiteed to CARB shows that Ample is actually working on an autonomous battery swap technology.
I know that some EV enthusiasts are uneasy with oil companies investing in electric vehicles and the surrounding infrastructure, but I think that it’s not a problem at this point with so many different companies taking part in the ecosystem.
I doubt they could shut it down or slow progress more than they have in the past.
As for Ample, they are still being vague about their technology, but it sounds like a charging system that works without access to the grid with batteries. It certainly sounds interesting and there can’t be enough effort to deploy EV charging infrastructure right now.
Update: a reader sent us a CARB document that Ample is actually working on an autonomous battery swap technology. They are not the first to try this. Tesla and Better Place both tried it unsuccessfully. Though to be fair, it doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happened successfully in the future. Nio is doing it in China now. Let’s see how it plays out.
if you know anything about Ample, you can reach out to me via wickr: fredev, Twitter: @FredericLambert, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.