One of the problems with electric motorcycles is finding somewhere to charge the battery, but a Chinese company believes the answer is in removable batteries you can carry inside to a power point for charging.
Removable batteries could be a way forward for electric motorcycles and scooters with several Japanese and Chinese companies now using or considering them.
Yamaha electric scooter with removable Gogoro battery
However, Shanghai scooter company Niu has unveiled their RQi scooter prototype which has removable two-piece Panasonic lithium battery packs which can be charged up on household mains outlets.
Niu RQi portable battery
It makes a lot of sense if the battery packs are light and small enough to carry inside.
We are used to charging our phones and portable devices when we get to work or return home, so one more battery wouldn’t make much difference.
Harley-Davidson’s electric scooter concept also has a removable battery with a handle so you can carry it inside for charging.
Harley electric scooter
Niu don’t specific charging time, but they say the two packs would provide range of about 130km in combined city/highway riding.
The RQi scooter, unveiled at the recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, is powered by a 30kW mid-drive motor with a top speed of 160km/h.
Other features are TFT dash, traction control, belt drive, 5G connectivity for GPS and anti-theft tracking, and an adaptive headlight that lights up the inside of corners as used by companies such as BMW and KTM.
NAWA claim the hybrid ultracapacitor battery system can reduce the size of a lithium-ion battery by up to half, or extend the range by up to double, or a manufacturer’s preferred combination of size, weight and range.
The NAWACap ultracapacitor pack recharges in just two minutes and the entire battery can be charged to 80% in one hour from a home supply.
The NAWA Racer concept’s pack only weighs 10kg which makes it ideal for use in a motorcycle.
Together with the bike’s carbon frame, it weighs only 150kg.
It is driven by a hubless rim motor in the rear wheel with 75kW of power for a 0-100km/h rate of less than three seconds which is fairly typical of most electric motorcycles.
NAWA Racer’s NAWACap pack can be removed and swapped for different levels of performance. There are also Race and Eco modes for more speed or extra range.
Other features are LED lighting, painted aluminium and copper, anodised matte black suspension forks and nubuck leather saddle in vintage camel.
A Canadian company is working on battery technology that will recharge an electric motorcycle in about five minutes without reducing battery life.
The discovery by GBatteries is a potential boost for electric motorcycles and other vehicles as recharging time, not range anxiety, is the biggest hurdle.
Harley-Davidson claims its LiveWire electric motorcycle can be recharged to 80% in about 30minutes using DC fast chargers.
Recharge in minutes
However, this process degrades the battery, shortening its life.
Now GBatteries has discovered a process where micro pulses of power will charge batteries quickly without any degradation.
They have filed for 45 patent applications, with 10 patents granted and 28 pending.
“Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, by eliminating the final barrier of charge time and enabling electric vehicles to charge as fast as it takes to fill a tank of gas,” the company says.
“One hour isn’t what we call fast. We’re pioneering technology that will enable electric vehicles to charge as fast as it takes to fill a tank of gas.”
How it works
GBatteries isn’t developing new materials or changing battery chemistry. Instead it is working on new software and hardware.
Their ChargeSense software uses artificial intelligence to create a complex series of small charging pulses and learn about the state of the battery as it charges to avoid degeneration and overheating.
Electric motorcycles are coming on a wave of hype about range of more than 300km, but are the claims a hoax?
Traditional petrol-powered motorcycles are quoted in terms of miles per gallon or litre per 100km. It provides a reliable and realistic guide to the range from a bike’s tank. Riding hard or conservatively doesn’t make a huge difference to range.
However, the range calculations for an electric motorcycle are not as simple.
We recently bought an expensive cordless vacuum cleaner which was claimed to have a battery that would last for a couple of hours of cleaning.
However, that was based on using the low-powered mode. If you want to really suck and use the boost mode, you are flat out getting about 20 minutes out of it. And six months down the track, that’s more like 15 minutes.
I also once drove an early Tesla sportster on a hot day around the Ipswich Motorway for only five laps before the fully charged battery overheated and I had to pit.
On another occasion, I rode an electric Zero DS with a claimed 290km of range from the Gold Coast to home and nearly ran out of battery because I was riding on the highway.
So is electric motorcycle range a hoax to rope in riders who want to be seen to be keeping pace with the modern world and showing their “green” credentials (that is, if they have access to clean power for recharging!).
Battery range in electric vehicles is subject to so many variables a range figure is almost a pointless hoax.
Factors that affect battery range include:
Extreme ambient temperatures;
Riding modes such as “eco” and “sport”;
Constant throttle at highway speeds that deplete batteries faster;
Brake regeneration extends range in stop-start traffic; and
Downhill sections conserve battery power.
Riders will have to think totally differently about electric motorcycles and almost disregard the salesperson’s claims about range.
For example, highway and city riding yield totally opposite range yields to a traditional petrol engine.
The latest Zero SR/F comes with this complex table of range calculations that vary from 132km on the highway to amiss double in the city! It’s enough to confuse any buyer.
Range (based on EU standard)
But the complex range claims have not stopped the surge of electric motorcycle sales, particularly in Asia and Europe.