Future of Travel

Revoy puts a twist on battery swapping to electrify long-haul routes

“We can turn every single truck on the road today into a battery-swapping hybrid in under two minutes,” Revoy CEO Ian Rust told Tech Brew.
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· 5 min read

Time is money.

That’s the reality for commercial fleet operators, whose success depends on their ability to efficiently run the delivery routes that ensure store shelves are stocked. The looming prospect of electrification of the heavy-duty vehicle sector complicates this proposition; charging an electric semi takes longer than fueling up with diesel. And electric batteries add weight to vehicles that are subject to payload restrictions.

Enter Revoy, a California-based startup CEO Ian Rust founded in 2021 based on a simple premise: What if the calculus of going electric didn’t have to be so complicated?

Revoy’s tech is a twist on a technology that’s a familiar concept within the EV sector: battery swapping. The idea? Avoid lengthy charging times, battery degradation, and power grid strains by simply giving drivers the option to swap one battery for another when they’re low on power. Revoy’s take on that is to offer a swappable solution for semis.

Revoy recently debuted what it describes as an “electric dolly” that can integrate with semi trucks and then be swapped out for fully charged ones. The product can essentially turn a diesel-powered semi into a hybrid vehicle, or it can serve as a range extender for an electric semi.

Revoy's "electric dolly"


Here’s how it works: Revoy’s add-ons are charged and ready to go at stations along long-haul routes. Drivers stop and attach the product between the tractor and trailer, a process that Rust says takes less than five minutes. Drivers can then get back on the road and drive on electric power; Revoy claims their product enables three to five time gains in fuel efficiency. Drivers can then stop at the next station and swap out the electric product for a fully charged one.

“What’s really important is that it’s completely seamless,” Rust told Tech Brew. “There’s no modifications needed whatsoever to the diesel truck itself. Someone could have heard about it five minutes ago, and they can hook it up and instantly hit the road and run on drastically less diesel and way lower emissions.”

Revoy says the technology can reduce emissions by between 70% and 90%, a key consideration for the trucking sector, which is a major contributor to US greenhouse-gas emissions.

Why hasn’t battery swapping taken off in the US?

Battery swapping is popular in China, where automakers like Nio are investing heavily in the technology. Last October, Nio reported having completed a total of 30 million battery swaps, livestreaming battery swap No. 30 million.

Nio’s model involves customers paying a monthly subscription fee for the service, per Business Insider. In November, Nio announced a new partnership with another Chinese automaker, Geely, Reuters reported; it has a similar arrangement with Changan Automobile.

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The concept has also taken off in parts of Africa, CleanTechnica reported, with two-wheeled EV startup Spiro, which has 600 swapping stations on the continent, reporting earlier this year that its customers had completed 7 million battery swaps. Spiro plans to roll out automated swap stations starting in May.

Battery swapping is far less common in the US, but there are some examples, including stations in San Francisco owned by the startup Ample, which recently inked an agreement with the automaker Stellantis. Mitsubishi Fuso, Daimler’s bus and truck division, is testing the tech as well.

The concept has its fair share of skeptics, who note significant obstacles such as the battery pack standardization it would require to implement battery swapping on a larger scale.

“When you look at battery swapping, there’s some advantages, but there are also some serious setbacks, and one of the most significant ones is how you implement precision engineering, because batteries need to be safely and quickly swapped out without actually damaging the vehicle or the battery itself,” Hooman Shahidi, CEO and co-founder of charging provider EVPassport, told us.

“In high-voltage areas, energy density can also pose really high risks—not to mention, you have very high infrastructure and operational costs,” he added.

Shahidi pointed to another charging tech innovation as an alternative that could help solve the uptime conundrum for fleets: wireless charging, which enables EVs to charge on the go (Shahidi said EVPassport is exploring the technology for its business).

“Refueling decision”

Rust contends that applying the passenger-vehicle market’s electrification model to heavy-duty trucks doesn’t make sense. He pointed to reports of long-haul truckers facing delays because of the time it takes to get to charging stations and power up their semis—which could ultimately affect the bottom lines of companies they drive for.

The Revoy add-on for semis currently offers up to 235 miles of range on a lithium iron phosphate battery pack, according to the company. Revoy has swapping stations in Texas and Arkansas, with plans to eventually build out a nationwide network.

“What we want to do with the swapping station network is…they show up at one of our stations, they hook it up, and it’s a net positive for them; they’re saving money on fuel, and that’s the end of the story,” Rust said. “It’s not this really complex decision around, ‘Do I replace my truck? Do I build charging infrastructure?’ It’s just a refueling decision.”

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Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.