It’s September, 2022—which means that it’s now been a year since Honda, KTM, Piaggio, and Yamaha first came together to begin work on their swappable battery consortium for future electric two-wheelers. Over the intervening months, they’ve occasionally informed us of forward progress. Most recently, a new battery-as-a-service provider called Swobbee joined the effort.
On September 15, 2022, the SBMC issued an update, and the first important thing to note is how much the consortium has grown. A total of 21 different firms are now members, and all of them met at KTM headquarters in Mattighofen, Austria in July, 2022 in order to discuss where they were coming from, as well as where they intend to go from here.
While the consortium remains open to additional members, so far, the membership includes: AVL, Ciklo, Fivebikes, Forsee Power, Hioki, Honda, Hyba, JAMA (Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association), Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, Niu, Piaggio, Polaris, Roki, Samsung, Sinbon, Sumitomo Electric, Suzuki, Swobbee, Vitesco, VeNetWork, and Yamaha.
The group says that it is on track to achieve its goals—but has so far remained opaque about a timeline. We know that they involve development of a shared swappable battery platform, as well as developing the infrastructure to roll it out to people and maintain its strength. Beyond that, however, the group is keeping its cards close to their chest until such time as they deem it appropriate to provide further public-facing information.
So far, the group says that they’ve agreed to appropriate technical specifications. Now, it’s on to the prototyping and standardization phases—things which we hope we’ll be able to witness more movement on in the coming months. Field trials in at least one (and likely more) European studies are planned, with “battery swapping on motorcycles” as a key point which the consortium wants to study.
One of the SBMC’s stated goals is to overcome negative public perceptions of electric two-wheelers through removing the pain point of having too many systems that don’t talk to each other. By co-developing standards, batteries, equipment, and infrastructure, they aim to make adoption of electric two-wheelers by the general public a more feasible proposition.
As electric cars gain footholds in various markets, the problem of charging accessibility in heavily-populated urban areas has become more obvious. With a shared swappable battery standard, and the potential ease of riders simply being able to stop at a station and swap a spent battery for one that is already topped up, potential adoption by a wider cross-section of people seems to have greater potential.
The effects of this partnership seem quite likely to have far-reaching implications for future development of electric vehicles across the industry. We look forward to seeing how this partnership progresses over time.