Interchangeable batteries are the key to making lightweight electric motorcycles and electric scooters practical for city dwellers and apartment dwellers who don’t have a private charging point at home, and now a promising battery standard known as the Swappable Battery Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC) name has grown from just four to a total of 21 members, in hopes of bringing that dream closer to reality.
The idea started when Japan’s Big Four – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki – announced they were joining forces in a swappable battery consortium in 2019.
Not much came out of this agreement, and then a second consortium was announced in 2021, made up of Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Piaggio.
This group became the SBMC and rolled out its first demonstration of a co-designed battery standard, which was basically everyone agreeing to use the battery Honda developed for its PCX electric scooter.
Now the SBMC announces that it has grown to an impressive 21 signatory companies, including big names in electric scooters and even powersports companies.
The full list is below:
- Predict the power
- Sumitomo electric
Some of these companies are manufacturers of two-wheeled electric vehicles, while others are technology companies that stand to benefit from a single standardized energy pack used for non-motorcycling tasks, such as powering equipment. remote or mobile.
Among the transport companies included as signatories, there are some interesting new additions.
NIU are one of the largest electric scooter companies in the world and already have a very efficient range of electric scooter batteries on a number of models.
That didn’t stop the company from jumping into SBMC, as NIU CEO Yan Li explained:
We are committed to improving access to electric urban mobility through the creation of common standards for interchangeable batteries. We believe this technology is essential to the adoption of sustainable urban 2-wheel solutions by reducing charging times, extending vehicle range and reducing costs for end users.
KYMCO has also invested heavily in its IONEX swappable battery platform, so it would be strange to see it abandon the effort and expense of creating its own in-house solution. The IONEX system already essentially does what the SBMC is trying to achieve, but with somewhat lower capacity batteries limited by their smaller physical size.
Polaris has expanded into high-performance electric utility vehicles, but has done so through an exclusive partnership with Zero Motorcycles that places Zero’s batteries in Polaris’ off-road vehicles. I don’t know how the use of a new swappable battery standard could be affected by this existing agreement (although having tested the new Polaris RANGER XP KINETIC a few days ago, I a m sure the performance is amazing – more on that soon).
The elephant in the room here is Gogoro, the Taiwanese electric scooter and swappable battery company that currently serves as the de facto standard for these swappable battery types.
While the Honda battery at the heart of the SBMC Accord has been a design off the shelf for years and has found limited real-world use in a small number of production Honda scooters, Gogoro has produced over a million of its exchangeable batteries. Riders perform over 300,000 battery swaps a day using Gogoro’s batteries, and the company has grown aggressively across Asia, and even into its first western country.
So the SBMC looks less like an attempt to develop a new battery as an international standard, and more like an attempt for the rest of the industry to rally around the best alternative that currently exists, with the aim of preventing Gogoro to continue to operate. increase the score and become the only battery standard for interchangeable batteries.
It makes sense that the rest of the industry is worried about a Gogoro takeover. They already have nearly a dozen major manufacturers that have adopted the Gogoro platform for their own scooters.
I personally used Gogoro’s system after the company’s expansion into Israel, as you can see in my video below, and it’s pretty darn nifty. The rest of the SBMC will have some serious catching up to do if it wants to overtake Gogoro’s lead as a swappable battery standard.
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