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ADV NewsE-Bikes With Universal, Swap-n-Go Batteries On The Horizon

E-Bikes With Universal, Swap-n-Go Batteries On The Horizon

Top manufacturers team up to standardize battery systems for electric motorcycles.

Published on 03.02.2021

In breaking news, KTM AG, Honda, Yamaha Motor, and scooter manufacturer, Piaggio, have formally announced their intention to join forces in the development of universal standards for swappable battery cells to be used in future electric motorcycles and other light e-vehicles. 

This “Consortium” (a fancy way to describe the act of multiple organizations pooling resources to achieve a common goal), believes the availability of a standardized swappable battery system will promote more widespread use of electric motorcycles by extending range and eliminating the time-suck of charging, the two dominant concerns of would-be e-moto consumers. 

universal swappable battery for e-bikes
Photo Honda Powersports

The Big Four: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha had already announced a separate alliance last year, stating they were working together to develop standardized specifications for their future EV batteries. What makes the freshly-announced Consortium different is that it will not only concentrate on co-developing its own products, it will also work to define  technical specifications for swappable battery systems throughout the L-category, which includes motorcycles, scooters, trikes and quads.


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As we reported last year, the concept of swap-and-go batteries isn’t a new one, in fact, thousands of swap-and-go battery stations already exist in future-forward countries like Taiwan, where energy-efficient scooters dominate the two-wheel transport industry. In Taiwan’s model, the consumer buys an electric two-wheeler, but not its battery, instead paying for a subscription to a swapping service like Gogoro, which maintains thousands of battery cell vending machines on the island. 

universal swappable battery for e-bikes
Photo Gogoro Network

So far in the U.S. we have very few electric motorcycle options, with Zero Motorcycles leading the charge since 2006. And while Zero’s lineup of dirt and street bikes grows more impressive each year, the range remains limited for travel of any kind. And yes, some Zero batteries are technically swappable, as in you can own more than one and have a backup ready to go when a spent cell needs a charge, but they won’t get you any farther down the road. 

In KTM AG’s press release regarding the new consortium, CEO Stefan Pierer acknowledges the constraints of e-driven motorcycles, in regard to range, charging time and initial cost, remain massive hurdles, but he also feels these drawbacks can be overcome by adapting a universal swappable battery system based on international technical standards.

For powered two-wheelers the constraints of electric drivetrains regarding range, charging time and initial cost are still evident. To overcome these challenges and provide a better customer experience, a swappable battery system based on international technical standards will become a viable solution. Considering the entire lifecycle, a widespread application of batteries compliant with a common standard will support secondary use as well as circular economy,” stated Pierer.

Due to the importance and inevitability of the cause, we won’t be at all surprised when more manufacturers announce an affiliation with this new effort to standardized lightweight, grab-and-go battery cells and infrastructure needed to make it consumer friendly. 

Photo Zero Motorcycles

But before any of our never e-bike adventure riders get their feathers ruffled, remember this isn’t going to happen overnight. Press releases issued by the four founding companies state the program, slated to get underway in May 2021, will run in accordance with Paris Climate Agreement timelines and the global market’s transition to “electromobility.”

So for now let’s gas up while the getting is good, and let the founding members of the new Consortium worry about how to make e-powered motorcycles an attractive alternative down the road. 

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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4 thoughts on “E-Bikes With Universal, Swap-n-Go Batteries On The Horizon

  1. Pingback: E-Bikes With Universal, Swap-n-Go Batteries On The Horizon - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. The consortium faces a multi-faceted challenge to develop one or more battery form factors suitable for street, off-road, small scooters, ADVs and big touring bikes.

  3. “And while Zero’s lineup of dirt and street bikes grows more impressive each year, the range remains insufficient for travel of any kind.”

    This is just bad writing.

    I know 4 people who have ridden Zero motorcycles across the U.S.

    I know 2 people who have ridden Zero motorcycles around the U.S.

    I consider my 40 mile daily commute and weekend recreational riding as “travel of any kind”.

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