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Honda sets out electric motorcycle vision with swappable battery plan

Honda launches the e:TECHNOLOGY project at the Tokyo Motor Show to complement its commitment to electrifying its vehicles, including motorcycles

Honda has used the Tokyo Motor Show to set out its vision for an electrified future across its motorcycle business by developing a range of models with swappable battery capability.

Though the Japanese giant – the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world – used the annual Japanese showcase to focus on launching its new Honda Jazz (Honda Fit) small car rather than any globsl motorcycles, it did dedicate a large portion of its presentation on an electrification plan across its entire product range.

Dubbed e:TECHNOLOGY, Honda’s electric project is dedicated to developing new concepts that are deigned to make electric transportation more seamless and convenient, with a 2030 deadline set for Honda to electrify two-thirds of its automobile range at least. 

What this means for Honda’s motorcycle range is the development of offering batteries that can be swapped out and replaced quickly and easily when they are running low.

Is a new range of electric Honda motorcycles on the way?

Yes and no. As with most big two-wheel manufacturers, Honda is coy on setting itself deadlines when it comes to an electrified motorcycle range as the costs involved in developing the technology versus the profit margins doesn’t make a very compelling case.

Indeed, Honda is only coming to the market with its first EV car next year – the Honda e – which is much later than most of its rivals, even if it is projected to set a new standard in terms of useable technology.

Instead, for now the Honda e:TECHNOLOGY initiative will instead focus on the Honda Mobile Power Pack, a swappable battery initiative which it showcased in two new Honda electric scooters – the Benly e and Gryo e three-wheeler.

For now, though Honda says its technology is predominantly targeted at business use and delivery service industry, it will likely set the blueprint for Honda’s electric motorcycle vision.

What are swappable batteries?

While American and European brands dipping their toe into electric waters have focused on ease-of-charging plug-in capabilities, there is an increasing lean towards swappable batteries in Asia.

Taiwanese start-up Gogoro has focused its business model around swappable batteries, complemented by an infrastructure that will see more ‘swap shops’ – kiosks where you can remove your flat battery, place it back in the dock and take a charged one so you can continue on your way – installed. Think of it as a petrol station for batteries.

Though Gogoro itself is a relatively niche – albeit growing – player in the scooter market, it recently announced it is teaming up with Yamaha, which has the investment and resource to take this format into new markets around the world. 

While Honda seems destined to go it alone with its Mobile Power Pack by providing swappable batteries at delivery stations only, it nonetheless means the two most powerful brands in motorcycling is prioritising this method to electrify its two-wheel ranges, at least in the short-term.

Honda has previously trialled a similar format with its hugely-popular PCX scooter, though this was limited to trials on a lease in Tokyo.

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