Big Bike Brands Get Serious About Battery Technology


Harley-Davidson is currently the only major motorcycle manufacturer with a fully electric offering in the global market. Photo / H-D

In a historic move, some of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers including Honda, KTM, Yamaha and Piaggio will move to collaborate on an innovative approach to swappable batteries for motorcycles and light electric vehicles come May 2021.


With a global focus on electromobility and with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in mind, the founding members believe that establishing this Consortium will contribute to the transport sector improving its management of batteries and promoting the use of light electric vehicles. Injecting energy into more sustainable practices will help develop pathways for the sector moving forward.


In response to customer concerns, the manufacturers hope to extend the range of batteries, decrease charging time and lower the overall cost for both vehicle production and infrastructure.


"The worldwide electrification effort to reduce CO2 on a global scale is accelerating, especially in Europe," says Honda's Managing Officer for Motorcycle Operations, Noriaki Abe.


"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 Consortium will work closely together to “define the standardized technical specifications of the swappable battery system for vehicles belonging to the L-category: mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles.”


“Sustainability is one of the key drivers to the future of mobility and electrification will play a major role in achieving this goal," says KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer.


"For powered two-wheelers, the constraints of electric drivetrains regarding range, charging time and initial cost are still evident. 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.”


While the foundations are being laid by Honda, KTM Yamaha and Piaggio are inviting other interested organisations to join the effort as well. In the long run, the motorcycle industry needs to band together to catch up to the advancements in EV technology enjoyed by car owners.


It is pleasing to see real leadership and investment from these brands to keep developing the next phase of motorcycling.