Never Wait To Charge Again With Honda's Battery Vending Machine Concept
Honda aim to solve one of the biggest problems facing electric vehicles with the development of a new standardised battery that can be swapped out and replaced with a fully charged unit at a charging station.
Currently, electric motorcycles (and other vehicles) each use different battery technologies. That means, when you're out and about, once your juice runs out, you're stuck waiting for it to charge. And even with fast charging it's a couple hours wait.
Honda's idea to offer standardised battery packs that can be swapped out means you could be riding around on your PCX Electric Scooter, find yourself running low, head to a vending-machine-like battery dispenser and swap your battery out for a fresh one in under ten minutes.
Honda call it their Mobile Power Pack Exchanger Concept and say it would be like swiping your credit card at a petrol station, offloading your dead battery for charging, and being given a new one, ready to go.
The essential part of this equation is that with a standardised battery, those same battery packs can be used by other vehicles across Honda's range, thereby increasing the viability of their dispenser stations, by allowing other types of vehicles to use them.
Vehicles like their side-by-side ATV: the ‘Mobile Power Pack 4W Vehicle Concept, or their autonomous four-wheeled buggy – the 3E-D18 – which is marketed as a workhorse vehicle for companies and even emergency services to use in places too dangerous for humans.
Honda of course aren't the first to offer batteries that can be swapped for a fresh charge in electric vehicles.
Zero Motorcycles and Tesla have both championed the concept, with Tesla offering a similar battery swap charging station scheme to test the idea of whether people were willing to pay for the convenience of a fresh battery without the wait, or continue to use their free charging points.
Problems We Foresee
The idea of a battery pack that can be used across vehicle ranges and swapped at charging stations is certainly a possible solution to waiting times.
In theory, having a motorcycle that has a battery that can be swapped out for a fresh charge at a station, would alleviate the burden of waiting for said battery to charge.
But, their are some problems that will need to be addressed.
Firstly, the battery dispensers would require an entire infrastructure network and constant updating with each improvement in battery technology.
It may only be a year or two before the batteries on offer are obsolete compared to the newer generation, which would mean those vehicles using an older model, would need to be updated, unless the essential contact points where power is transferred remain the same.
Even then, it is often more complex than that.
In order to be truly practical on a daily basis, the concept would require that other manufacturers also standardise their batteries. Otherwise, the proposed network is useless to non-Honda users. Possibly a good way for Honda to dominate the sector, but then it would also require a huge investment on their part.
Having other manufacturers standardise their batteries would be near impossible without government intervention, and could possibly lead to the stagnation of innovation within the sector.
Most manufacturers are still in the process of investing heavily in battery technology with the hopes of improving their range, decreasing their weight and increasing the rate of charge.
If it were all standardised, this would be left up to Honda, unless a shared initiative was started.
At this point in time, the idea of being able to swap out your battery for a fresh charge is probably the simplest and best solution for charge times.
At the moment though, with the cost of an extra battery near the two grand mark, it's not always viable for everyone.