Will motorbikes succeed where electric cars failed?


Good news from friends on two wheels! A group of key motorcycle manufacturers come together to set industry standards for replaceable batteries.

Yamaha, Piaggio, Honda and KTM have all reportedly signed an agreement to work together on motorcycle and light vehicle technology.

The deal sees the companies forming a consortium, which is open to other manufacturers to join. So if you are or know someone who works at BMW Motorrad, Ducati, Harley-Davidson or any other motorcycle manufacturer, politely, can you join in?

Kawaski and Suzuki were said to have been part of a similar deal that was discussed last April, however, these two brands appear to have been traded (ahem) for Piaggio and KTM.

Being able to remove and replace batteries in an electric car, as if they were cells in a TV remote control, is unfortunately not really a thing. It’s in parts of China, but most of the effort to bring this concept to life has been bombed.

I don’t know why it hasn’t taken off yet. It makes a lot of sense to just replace your bag when it’s flat and set up a new, fully charged unit in a matter of minutes.

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This makes charging much faster and eliminates the hassle of recycling EV batteries when they reach the end of their life. On top of that, it means entire cars don’t have to be deregistered when the battery is on. In an industry increasingly focused on reducing waste, replaceable batteries seem like a great idea.

However, swapping out a car battery isn’t exactly easy. That’s probably why it didn’t take off. More often than not, the cells are so buried in the structure of the vehicle and intertwined with cooling systems that it is just too difficult.

Chinese automaker NIO has a working system, but it is not universal and can only be done at specialized sites.

However, motorcycles are simpler, smaller, and lighter, so their batteries won’t have to be that big. With bicycles with an “open” frame, the batteries could get away with being air-cooled, which could facilitate their exchange.

We’ll have to watch this one closely to see how the standards play out, and you can bet we will.

Sources: Reuters, AutoCar India

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Published March 1, 2021 – 15:22 UTC


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