Early in 2021, we saw press releases of a new industry consortium, putting Japanese and Euro manufacturers together to develop swappable batteries for electric motorcycles. Now, a Yamaha press release says it’s a done deal, with the paperwork finalized.
This deal follows an earlier all-Japanese consortium, with Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha all agreeing to develop swappable batteries for scooters, building electric step-throughs with performance roughly equivalent to the 50 cc category.
Now, Honda and Yamaha are joining with the big Euro OEMs (KTM, Piaggio Group) to work on an industry standard for swappable motorcycle batteries.
Here’s an excerpt from the press release, giving you a rough idea what’s actually going on here:
“… the founding members of the Consortium believe that the availability of a commonly developed swappable battery systems is key to the development of low–voltage electromobility.
The underlying aim of the Consortium is to find solutions to the concerns customers may have regarding the future of electromobility, such as the range, the charging time and infrastructure, and costs. This will be achieved in accordance with four primary goals:
1. Develop common technical specifications of the swappable battery systems
2. Confirm common usage of the battery systems
3. Make, and promote, the Consortium’s common specifications a standard within European and International standardization bodies
4. Expand the use of the Consortium’s common specification to global level
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. Indeed, the availability of charging stations varies between countries and there is still limited information for end users. Therefore, with this Consortium, YAMAHA, HONDA, KTM and PIAGGIO aim at engaging the decision makers for the development and deployment of charging infrastructure to promote the increase of light electric vehicles.”
The manufacturers involved say they’re encouraging other OEMs to get on-board as well.
The way forward
There’s no question that regulators want to make EVs the future standard, and that means the motorcycle industry has to change. This consortium is an important part of the industry’s plan to adapt and overcome the challenges of the future.
The reality of electric motorcycles as we know them is that currently, battery technology is too clunky to truly replace the capabilities of even the cheapest motorcycles as a practical machine outside city limits. Motorcycles either need to develop quick-charge capability outside their current limited parameters, or some method of quickly swapping in a fresh-charged battery too replace an old one. While no doubt the OEMs are all working on the first option, it’s encouraging to see so many big companies cooperating on the second option. Swappable batteries might not be the way forward in the long term, but in the short term, it’s probably the best bet we have.