In March, 2021, Honda, KTM, Piaggio, and Yamaha all got together to sign a letter of intent about their EV battery swapping plans. The project’s stated goal was to agree upon a set of shared standards to which all four companies planned to adhere. At the time, all four companies planned to start their work in or around May, 2021.
If the past two years have taught us nothing else, it’s that plans can most definitely change. Thus, it’s now September 7, 2021. As we write this, Piaggio formally announced just yesterday that all four companies moved forward with signing the official agreement on this project, thus creating the Swappable Batteries Motorcycle Consortium.
By their powers combined, the four companies have four major plans they want to pursue with this Consortium:
- Develop common technical specifications for their swappable battery systems
- Confirm common usage of said systems
- Create and promote their agreed-upon specifications as both European and International standards
- Expand the agreed-upon specifications to be adopted globally
As we’ve seen with past technologies, having a whole bunch of different companies develop proprietary connections, dongles, and other standards does no one any favors. If the goal is to make it easier for the general public to adapt to new technologies, then having common standards seems like the simplest, most straightforward way to get there. Incidentally, the SBMC is also inviting any other interested stakeholders (in other words, other OEMS) to join in this collective effort.
“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,” Yamaha Motor Company Limited senior executive officer and chief general manager of land mobility business operations Takuya Kinoshita said in a statement.
“Honda believes that the widespread adoption of electric motorcycles can play an important part in realizing 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,” began Honda Motor Company Limited motorcycle operations chief officer Yoshishige Nomura.
“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,” Nomura concluded.
“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,” added Piaggio Group’s chief of strategy and product, Michele Colaninno.
“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,” said Pierer Mobility AG CEO Stefan Pierer.