The Big Four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have put together a deal to work on electric motorcycle technology, focusing on quick-swap battery packs.
The biggest obstacle hindering electric motorcycle development is battery technology. Existing electric bike batteries don’t have sufficient range to keep consumers happy, or they’re too slow to recharge, or they cannot be swapped out quickly, or they’re expensive to replace. Many motorcyclists are immediately turned off the idea of an electric bike when they realize the limitations of current batteries.
Integrating a quick-swap battery design is one way around the problem. Just as you ride to a gas station to refuel a standard motorcycle in a matter of minutes, a network of quick-swap battery stations would allow riders to pull up, quickly change a dead battery for a freshly-charged battery, and ride off. It would also allow riders to swap out older batteries once they’re starting to lose their capacity.
However, while Honda has scooters with quick-swap batteries (other manufacturers have similar motorcycles), and they have been sharing some EV tech with Yamaha, there has been no widespread cooperation between multiple manufacturers. Now that’s changing, with Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki all planning to work together on battery technology.
According to a Honda 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.” There is no explanation of how the companies intend to cooperate between each other within this arrangement, but details will likely be revealed in coming weeks and months. Don’t be surprised to see all of the Big Four releasing scooter-type vehicles on the show circuit with standardized quick-swap battery packs.