Honda, Yamaha, KTM, & Vespa Agree To Universal Electric Motorcycle Battery Standard
One of the biggest obstacles for industry adoption in the early days of EVs was the plurality of charging options. Today, we still have CHAdeMO, CCS, and Tesla’s own proprietary standard all battling it out in the US, with other standards still in play throughout the rest of the world as well. But that’s the car business, and, while it’s very similar to the motorcycle business, it’s different. There’s a bit more collaboration, maybe, and (outside of Harley-Davidson‘s “core buyer” group), a little more camaraderie, even. As such, it should probably not be totally surprising to hear that the major motorcycle players have all agreed to a single, shared EV battery standard for their upcoming electric models.
“The worldwide electrification effort to reduce CO2 on a global scale is accelerating, especially in Europe,” says Noriaki Abe, the Managing Officer of Motorcycle Operations at Honda. “For the widespread adoption of electric motorcycles, problems such as travel distance and charging times need to be addressed, and swappable batteries are a promising solution. Considering customer convenience, standardization of swappable batteries and wide adoption of battery systems is vital, which is why the four member manufacturers agreed to form the Consortium.”
The final product is expected to superficially resemble the Gogoro solution currently being rolled out in Taiwan, but will likely be a development on Honda’s own technology, first shown at the 2018 CES trade show back when, you know, we had trade shows. Back then, Honda showed not just a motorcycle being powered by its swappable batteries — an electric version of its PCX scooter line — but an electric side-by-side utility vehicle (UTV) as well.
Honda CES 2018 Image Gallery
The batteries could be charged while still in the vehicle, or be swapped for a fresh set at a conveniently located kiosk, which would probably occupy the same space as an ice machine at some future gas station or 7-11 in Japan and the US, but it’s important to realize that KTM, with its Husqvarna brand, and Piaggio, parent company of Vespa, will also play a huge part in the consortium’s global success.
“Sustainability is one of the key drivers to the future of mobility and electrification will play a major role in achieving this goal. For powered two-wheelers the constraints of electric drivetrains regarding range, charging time and initial cost are still evident,” says Stefan Pierer, CEO at KTM. “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. We are glad to be part of the Consortium as we strive towards our goals in the e-mobility sector.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, and whether or not a shared battery technology will dilute the different characters of each of the brands involved, or if it will allow the companies’ engineers to offload some development bandwidth and really focus on getting the suspension and frame geometry dialed-in so that a new electric YZF feels suitable different from a future electric CBR, you know? Let us know what you think of this big news in the comments section at the bottom of the page!