Yamaha, Honda, KTM, Piaggio sign another deal to develop swappable electric moto batteries

Yamaha's E02 electric scooter. Photo: Yamaha

They’re back at it. After an all-Japanese consortium signed a deal to develop electric scooter batteries in 2019, with little news of success, some of those players are back with a similar deal that starts work in coming weeks.

Today, Yamaha Motor Europe announced the company’s deal with Honda, KTM, and Piaggio, working on swappable battery tech for motorcycles and “light Electric Vehicles.” This comes almost two years after Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki announced they were working together on swappable battery tech in 2019 (see that write-up here). Before that, Yamaha and Honda had their own just-between-them deal to work on electric moto tech.

Why are usually hyper-competitive moto companies working together? Simple. Everyone knows a universal quick-swap battery is the key to moving electric motorcycles forward. Instead of waiting around for lengthy recharge times, riders can get back on the road quickly if they can quickly change out batteries. No single manufacturer has the market share to make this feasible, but if they all work together, they can make this technology fiscally feasible.

It’s not that the tech doesn’t exist; many electric motos on the market already use some sort of swappable battery. It’s just that there’s no consistency in sizing, so every rider is confined to a specific company’s energy source, instead of using a common energy source. We’d be facing a similar problem if every motorcycle manufacturer required its own specific blend of gasoline.

Yamaha’s partners this time around are very interesting. Piaggio and Honda both have massive scooter markets (remember, Piaggio also owns Vespa), and KTM has a few years’ history of building electric dirt bikes as well. It’s unclear exactly where this will all head, but it seems the industry’s biggest players are still committed to making swappable batteries work. Hopefully it happens before gasoline engines are all banned …

Press release

Yamaha Motor signs a Letter of Intent with Honda Motor, KTM and Piaggio for the creation of a Swappable Batteries Consortium for Motorcycles and light Electric Vehicles

IWATA, March 1, 2021 – Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announces today that the company has signed a Letter of Intent with Honda Motor Co., Ltd. , KTM AG and Piaggio & C SpA to set up a Swappable Batteries Consortium for Motorcycles and light Electric Vehicles.
In the context of the Paris Climate Agreement and the transition to electromobility, the founding members of the Consortium believe that the availability of a standardized swappable battery system would both promote the widespread use of light electric vehicles and contribute to more sustainable life-cycle management of batteries used in the transport sector.

Also, by extending the range, shortening the charging time and lowering vehicle and infrastructure costs, the manufacturers will try to answer customers‘ main concerns regarding the future of electromobility.

The aim of the Consortium will, therefore, be to define the standardized technical specifications of the swappable battery system for vehicles belonging to the L-category; mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles. By working closely with interested stakeholders and national, European and international standardization bodies, the founding members of the Consortium will be involved in the creation of international technical standards.

The Consortium will start its activities in May 2021. The four founding members encourage all interested stakeholders to join the cooperation to enrich the consortium’s expertise.

Executive Officer Takuya Kinoshita, Chief General Manager of Motorcycle Business Operations, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. Said:

“I believe the creation of this Consortium holds great significance not just for Europe but the world as we move towards establishing standards for swappable batteries for light electric vehicles. I’m confident that through work like this, the technical specs and standards that currently differ by regional characteristics or the state of the industry in different markets will be unified, and, in the future, will help lead towards maximizing the merits of electric power for customers on a global level.”

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