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Consortium : The Universal Battery Pack

    Remember when charging various portable devices required a tangle of different charge cords and AC adapters? It was inconvenient and inefficient.

    In an unusually cooperative play, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha have agreed to design and build their future electric motorcycles with standardized interchangeable battery packs. With a universal design motorcyclists, regardless of brand, could ride to a  fuel or battery station and simply pull out the battery and swap it for a fully charged unit and be on the road in the same time it would take to refuel the bike. Or riders without access to a home charge point could simply ride to the battery station and get a freshly charged battery. 

    The plan may have a drawback in somewhat restricting design freedom for near term electric motorcycles but the peace of mind in being able to take a longer journey on an electric bike knowing that fresh batteries will be immediately available is worth the compromise. For years the fuel tank, or the facsimile of a fuel tank, between the seat and the bars (even when the actual fuel tank slipped lower or beneath the seat) has been a staple of design. The incorporation of a battery pack may have a similar effect. 

    The universal battery pack is the most reasonable solution to the primary concern about owning an electric motorcycle until fast-charging times drop to 15 minutes or less and should reduce the price of the batteries (and therefore the motorcycle) as production becomes standardized. Noriaki Abe, Honda’s managing officer of motorcycle operations and the consortium’s representative secretary, confirms the companies will cooperate on battery design and standards but insists they will continue to compete to develop better and more desirable products and ultimately the result of the consortium will be to further the adoption of electric motorcycles.

    European marques KTM (with affiliate Husqvarna) and Moto Guzzi and Aprilia of the Piaggio Group will also join the consortium—eventually, most major manufacturers will be part of the consortium and the disadvantage will become not being in it.

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