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Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Piaggio Formalize Swappable Battery Consortium

Six months after signing a letter of intent, Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Piaggio Group have signed an agreement for the creation of a swappable battery consortium. The basic premise, of course, is to allow customers of light electric vehicles, including motorcycles, to swap an expended battery for a fully charged battery at conveniently located stations, rather than wait for their battery to recharge.

Leaders from each of the companies are pictured above signing the agreement. Here is a press release from one of the group’s members, Piaggio Group:

September 06th, 2021 – Following the signing of the Letter of Intent on March 1, PIAGGIO Group (PIA.MI), HONDA Motor Co., Ltd., KTM F&E GmbH and YAMAHA Motor Co., Ltd., have officially signed the agreement for the creation of the Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC).

Committed to the promotion of the widespread use of light electric vehicles, such as mopeds, scooters, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles in the transport sector and to the more sustainable life-cycle management of batteries in the context of international climate policies, 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, PIAGGIO, HONDA, KTM and YAMAHA aim at engaging the decision makers for the development and deployment of charging infrastructure to promote the increase of light electric vehicles.

The four founding members encourage all interested stakeholders to join the cooperation to enrich the Consortium’s expertise in order to ensure a large diffusion of standard swappable batteries in the future. Parties who are interested to join the SBMC can contact one of the founding members for further information. 

Michele Colaninno, Chief of strategy and product of Piaggio Group: “Urban mobility is going through a delicate moment of transition towards electrification. Thanks to our Consortium, representing four major global players, motorbikes will continue to play a key role in the urban context. Swappable batteries give the right answer to speed up the recharging time of vehicles offering an additional valuable choice for users. Urban mobility is part of the Piaggio DNA and history: our aim is to bring all our technological know-how and attitude for innovation to the Consortium.”

Yoshishige Nomura, Chief Officer, Motorcycle Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.: “Honda believes that the widespread adoption of electric motorcycles can play an important part in realising a more sustainable society. For that purpose, we need to solve several challenges such as extending the range, shortening the charging time and lowering the vehicle and infrastructure costs to enhance convenience for customers. In the Consortium we have created, the founding members from the motorcycle industry and other stakeholders will work together towards standardizing swappable batteries, their charging systems and surrounding infrastructure to create the environment for their use. Our final goal is to ensure that motorcycles will continue to be chosen as a useful method of transportation in future mobility.” 

Stefan Pierer, CEO PIERER Mobility AG: “The signing of this Consortium agreement is a key step in ensuring that PIERER Mobility AG, can continue to move forward, deliver innovation at pace, and advance its clear strategic vision for electric powered two-wheelers. Together with our partners, we will work to deliver a swappable battery system for low-voltage vehicles (48V) up to 11kW capacity, based on international technical standards. We very much look forward to ensuring that powered two-wheeler vehicles maintain their role in the future of both urban and non-urban mobility.” 

Takuya Kinoshita, Senior Executive Officer, Chief General Manager of Land Mobility Business Operations, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.: “The Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium in Europe is finally ready to get to work. I hope that this first step forward will be a beacon that draws like-minded parties to our mission and leads to transformative changes for the future. We at Yamaha Motor are confident that through this initiative, we can help unify the differing technical specs and standards and contribute to maximizing the merits of electric power for customers around the world.”

23 Comments

  1. Litho says:

    On one hand, good to see manufacturers working together. On the other, those batteries will probably be used to track every inch of your commute. Combine that with all the tracking your smartphones already do, the loose regulations involving people’s data in most parts of the world, voyeuristic governments, hacks, swatters, etc…..

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, considering all those things, it doesn’t seem like it matters much if the battery is utilized as a redundant tracking device as well.

      • Litho says:

        For those doing the tracking, it’s redundancy. For those being tracked, it’s an additional vector of ingress. There are benefits (eg; emergency services), but the 1984-ness is telling.

  2. Curly says:

    It might also be good for users that could purchase a spare battery to be kept at home or work then swap out for the reverse trip. They might never even use the public locations for battery swapping. As an around town, high density living commuter solution I believe it may succeed. Good to see the big guys cooperating.

  3. Doc Sarvis says:

    Leave it to most to make anecdotal observations dooming the technology before it starts on the details. This release is the high level stuff that needs to happen. I for one think this is great.

  4. Marcus says:

    Interchangeable batteries on a motorcycle will never be a concern of mine.

  5. Mick says:

    I see this as a plan to increase electric motorcycle and, mostly, scooter use in high population density areas. Cities, particularly those outside the United States, have motorcycles and scooters parked all over the place. Almost none of those places have any capacity to charge electric vehicles.

    The down side here is that standard batteries may become great things to steal. Some kind of security system should be incorporated into the batteries so they sort of know when the have been stolen and start an on board beacon to alert authorities, who will then ignore them.

    Ah cities. If I ever set foot in another one it’ll be way too soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t worry yourself, Mick. Batteries be heavy. Really, really heavy. They be too heavy for you, as after all, you’re burdened with carrying that humongous godlike (small “g”, son) ego of yours everywhere you go.

      Fortunately, you’re the only man on the planet with shoulders (ref. “godlike, small g”) big and powerful enough for that heavenly task…’n’ sheit.

  6. John says:

    Not sold on the idea, yet, but getting closer. Swappable, yes, but how much, how often and where still remain. If batteries are available at any gas station, sure. If not, you’ll have to plan all your trips with specific locations in mind. Kinda ruins the whole idea of jumping on your bike to get away from it all, which is one of the major reasons I ride. Also, how much to swap? How much more to swap than to charge at home? If it’s perceived as unreasonable or a ripoff, there goes the economic argument. Kudos for these manufacturers for having the foresight to adopt the first step with a standardization process, but it’s still not worth it, for me.

    • Jason says:

      This isn’t for large motorcycles used by recreational riders in Europe and North America. (Those markets make up 4% of global motorcycles sales.) This partnership is for the billions of riders in Asian mega cities riding 50 to 150cc motorcycles for basic transportation.

      The Taiwanese company Gogoro is by far the current market leader for swap-able batteries. They sell the bike and lease the battery. Plans vary up to $42 a month for dual batteries with unlimited swaps.

  7. T OH says:

    It will be a very green world when you can charge your battery from your electric generating tree!

  8. Ole Petter Nordal says:

    Leave it to the Honda guy, to show up to a suitfest in a labcoat…..

  9. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    AS I have stated before, I would never stuff a battery, with an UNKNOWN history into my motorcycle and expect an uneventful ride. Now a towable trailer with a humongous solar cell array, wired to a liquid cooled electric motor might be OK, but still not totally renewable. Some body has to manufacture the sparky glass.
    SYLL – Support your local luddites.

    • Lynchenstein says:

      There’s no reason they won’t be developing small cells where a typical scooter or bike will accept more than one depending on the implementation. For example, Scooters: 1-3 cells, larger bikes: 4+ cells. No single point of failure, redundancy and so on.
      These swappable cells could be used in more than just motorbikes too: what about camping trailers? Honda Lawn mowers? leaf blowers? We already have power tools with swappable batteries, so this is just a logical extension of the concept.

    • Dave says:

      I would expect batteries to become a subscription service instead of a owned asset with this development. Battery health would be monitored by the service provider and bad ones would be pulled from service.

  10. Gary says:

    This could pave the way for a feasible two wheel EV. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  11. joe b says:

    “we need to solve several challenges such as extending the range, shortening the charging time and lowering the vehicle and infrastructure costs” unquote. pretty much summed it up. Electric vehicles have their place, but traditional luddites will shun them.

    • TimC says:

      “Traditional luddites”? Please. “People who understand all the aspects of the problem including system generation capacity, currently going the wrong way with emphasis on renewables (ask Texas)” is the correct nomenclature.

      Or, “People with common sense” if you’re into the whole “brevity” thing.

      • Kermit says:

        Thanks TimC👍

      • kt says:

        Texas did not have issues with renewables. They had a problem with natural gas lines that froze, shutting down their generation plants. The initial talk about renewables being the issue was quickly corrected. I replaced my Mercedes with a Tesla three years ago, absolutely no downside. I’ve spent a lot LESS time recharging than I used to spend at gas stations, because I charge at home 95% of the time, starting every day with 270 miles of range (I charge to 90%). For urban use, a scooter or motorcycle with a swappable batter is perfect. Will it replace my adventure bike – no, not in the foreseeable future. But probably half of motorcyclists are probably good candidates. Less maintenance, faster off the line, quieter – where’s the down side for urban use, once pricing is comparable?

      • joe b says:

        TimC, typical luddite answer. you fit in the box. check.

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