Written by Thembani Magazi – June 03, 2021
Reviewed by Asaf Kedem
Honda has signed a deal with Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki to create a standard specification for swappable electric bike batteries. Honda has also embarked on a project to reach a similar agreement in Europe with the firms KTM and Piaggio.
While the world is increasingly becoming accustomed to the belief that electric vehicles are going to replace combustion engines, there are still huge lingering questions surrounding the implementation of the supporting infrastructure and how best to handle the changeover. The challenge of recharging remains a hurdle.
Swappable batteries were once seen as the solution for all sorts of electric vehicles- even Tesla originally wanted to create a network of automated stations that would remove the batteries from underneath their cars and replace them with freshly charged versions. This failed to take off for the cars, largely because of the sheer size of the packs and the specific shapes each required to suit their corresponding vehicle.
For electric bicycles, the idea has been much easier to achieve. In Taiwan, electric scooter firm Gogoro already has a network of more than 2000 GoStations where you can swap your bike’s battery for a fresh one, replenishing its range for a small fee. Yamaha’s own electric scooter, the EC-05, is based on the Gogoro design, and Honda has been pursuing swappable batteries with its PCX electric scooter (available in parts of Asia), hoping to create an infrastructure for universal battery packs that can be used in scooters, bikes, quads, and even lawnmowers.
Piaggio’s Vespa Elettrica uses a removable battery pack too, and KTM’s E-Ride models have had swappable packs for some years now. All the firms in this new consortium are convinced that the idea is a viable solution, and that a standardized battery that they could all share would only make it better.
Honda has explained that swappable batteries are vital to their electric bike strategy for 2024, saying: “The key to successful electrification of motorcycle products is to consider the battery, which is still expensive, separately from the motorcycle. In developed countries, where electrification is in strong demand, we will pursue electrification utilizing the Mobile Power Pack.” That is the battery swap system Honda revealed a few years ago which is already being used for their low-volume PCX Electric scooter, their business-oriented Gyro e and the Benly e models in Japan.
Auto Trendy’s take:
The electric motorcycle market is proving lucrative for a lot of manufacturers right now. Honda is taking the right steps to ensure the firm’s continued success and these consortiums with both Japanese and European firms are likely to yield more innovations. A swappable electric battery will be a gamechanger for the electric motorcycle industry as Honda plans to not only enhance their own product lineup but also to create many available battery-swapping stations while ensuring convenience to the users by making said batteries compatible with EVs of other makers. Who knows, maybe the applications go beyond electric motorcycles and even to other solutions? Being able to change out your e-bike battery with that of the lawnmower does sound like a zany enough improvement to keep the fun factor of owning electric high. It’s about time people appreciate the convenience that electrification offers. Swappable batteries are a step in the right direction for the industry.