Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki will work together to develop swappable battery technology, to further electric motorcycle development.
The revelation comes via Honda, which issued a news release announcing an “exchangeable battery consortium for electric motorcycles.” The press release (find it here) doesn’t describe how the new partnership will work, but it does say the new consortium’s purpose is to collaborate to make electric motorcycles popular in Japan.
The consortium will tackle the battery issue: the big challenge that’s held back electric motorcycles for several years. For now, electric motorcycles have had restricted range due to the size, cost and recharge time of existing battery packs. One solution to the problem is to have quick-swap batteries, which would make it easy for a rider to stop at a central location (similar to a gas station) and change out a depleted battery for a fully-charged replacement in a matter of minutes, instead of waiting through a lengthy recharge session.
But until now, there has been little standardization of battery technology between companies. All the manufacturers that make electric motorcycles have different batteries. Some makers do already have quick-swap batteries, but they do not interchange with other brands, this inhibits the development of electric motorcycles by making quick-change networks considerably more expensive and inconvenient.
According to the press release, “the consortium is studying the standardization of replaceable batteries and their battery replacement systems for common use, and will seek technical synergy and aim to create economies of scale.” In other words, they’re working on making quick-swap batteries feasible across multiple brands, which should result in affordability
Although it hasn’t received much airtime yet, this could be the biggest news story of the year, in the long run. Stay tuned. The results of this study could hit next year’s show circuit, and it will be interesting to see the developments.