One battery to rule them all

Are you hesitant to get an electric scooter because of the limited range? Worried about buying replacement batteries every few years? Japanese motorcycle brands hope to ease these worries in the future by discussing these issues in the Swappable Battery Consortium for Electric Motorcycles.

One of their goals is to establish a standardized swappable battery compatible with all Japanese electric motorcycle models.

This group, established by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation in April 2019, has reached an agreement to standardize swappable batteries and replacement systems. This means if you have an electric motorcycle from any one of these four brands, you can interchange the batteries. This standardization is hoped to pave the way for increased adoption of electric motorcycles in Japan.

Japanese Big Four to use standardized swappable battery image

Since its inception, the Consortium has been formulating the standards for mutual-use swappable batteries and their related systems, as well as replacement programs. The group sees these issues as the reason why widespread adoption of electric motorcycles has yet to happen, despite improvements in drive range and reduction of charging time. They hope to speed it up because it is a more environmentally friendly and convenient form of mobility.

In order to establish the convenience and effectiveness of mutual-use swappable batteries, the Consortium has been cooperating since last year with the “e-Yan OSAKA” field tests conducted by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association's Electric Motorcycle Promotion Subcommittee in collaboration with Osaka Prefecture and the national university corporation Osaka University, aimed at popularizing and increasing the adoption of environmentally-friendly electric motorcycles.

Japanese Big Four to use standardized swappable battery image

By aggreeing on a standardized swappable battery, owners of electric motors can simply pull out their used battery, deposit it at a charging location, and pickup a new, fully-charged one for a small fee. If all the brands agree on one kind of battery, the cost of producing batteries, putting up charging networks, and even recycling batteries can be significantly reduced as well as made more convenient.

Taiwan's Gogoro brand already has such a system in place in its home country, which already has widespread electric scooter use.

The new standardized battery is compliant with specifications recommended by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. Organization (JASO) technical paper TP21003 issued on March 19. The Consortium will work hand in hand with the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to realize international mutual-use (international standardization).

Unfortunately, the consortium hasn't indicated which battery they'll use. Honda and Yamaha have already developed their own swappable batteries. In addition, Yamaha and Suzuki have some models that are compatible with Gogoro's batteries.

“This agreement for the standardization of mutual-use batteries is an achievement made possible through the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers working together over the past two years. I am grateful to all those associated with the Consortium and the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. for their understanding and support,” Noriaki Abe, Consortium Representative Secretary, and Managing Officer, Motorcycle Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Besides the Big 4 Japanese brands, there's a chance this could be adopted by European brands too. Yamaha and Honda have also formed another consortium that includes the KTM and Piaggio groups. This means that future KTM, Husqvarna, Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia, and Moto Guzzi may use a similar battery for their future electric motorcycles as well.