Japan’s big four motorcycle brands: Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki are working together to develop electric models.
Last year, the group of four have already announced the formation of a consortium between them. As members of the consortium, each brand will put aside their rivalries to work together on developing a standardised set of specifications for electric motorcyce components. The idea is for the four brands to make parts like batteries and chargers interchangeable in order to encourage consumers to shift to electric mobility.
The consortium was already formed last year. However, since then, there has been little news of what the group has achieved. That is until now.
The group has just announced that they will begin a trial run of their new, battery-swappable electric bikes in coopertation with Osaka University.
The trial run, called the ‘e-Yan Osaka’ trial will loan students and staff of the University electric bikes to use with the campus. Battery-swap stations will be set up on the University’s campuses and at local convenience stores. The hopes to gauge the feasibility of swapping batteries for fresh ones at convenient locations rather than having consumers worry about charging them at home or at work. If successful, it should help the group determine whether to equipe the motorcycles with large, heavy long-range batteries or small, portable short-range batteries.
The test will be run for about a year for the consortium to study the market and take note of any problems with the motorcycles, batteries, or battery-swapping system. It will also help the group determine the ideal size and design of batteries for a production version.
The ‘e-Yan Osaka’ trial hopes to analyze how battery-swappable electric bikes could help urban transport if concerns about range, charge time and finding recharging points are addressed.
"As a result of repeated collaboration studies among four domestic motorcycle companies we were able to collaborate with e-Yan OSAKA to verify the common specifications of replaceable batteries," said Noriaki Abe, Managing Executive Officer and Head of Motorcycle Business Operations at Honda.
"We are aware that there are still issues to be solved in the spread of electric motorcycles, and we will continue to work on improving the usage environment of our customers in areas where each company can cooperate."
So far, only Honda has managed to develop its own electric model with a swappable battery. Yamaha and Suzuki have colalborated with Gogoro on their own electric scooter. Kawasaki's electric models are still udner development.
Honda’s PCX electric, which uses the Mobile Power Pack battery is being tested in Romblon. The bikes are loaned to a small community and their batteries are being charged by renewable nergy.
By cooperating to standardize a swappable battery and swapping stations, the four brands hope to make replacing your electric scooter’s battery as easy as reloading your prepaid phone with credits.