Kymco promise to revolutionise cheap electric travel

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Kymco unveiled the Ionex electric scooter at last week’s Tokyo Motorcycle Show, which they say eliminates all the barriers to going green. What are the barriers? There are four apparently: looks, charge time, range and infrastructure. How have Kymco bypassed them? Removable batteries.


Steady start

Despite all the advantages that going electric brings, the simple truth is that electric bikes haven’t quite caught on yet. A few big manufacturers have had a go (BMW’s C-Evolution being the obvious example) and some are coming soon (Harley-Davidson). For now, though, there is no one player making waves... but Kymco are hoping it will be them. Over the next three years, Kymco will release ten electric bikes and they intend to sell 500,000 of them to people all over the world, starting here, with the Ionex.

The key to the Ionex system is lightweight, removable batteries. On the first bike they have shown from the Ionex range, the Many EV, the scooter has two removable batteries under the footboards. One touch of a button and the battery bay opens, allowing you to remove the batteries for charging. The batteries themselves only weigh 5kg, so carrying them around should be fairly easy. By placing them under the floor, Kymco say it’s given the bike the lowest centre of gravity possible, while at the same time giving the bike the biggest underseat storage compartment of any of their rivals.


Ready… set… go

To go with these removable batteries are a whole host of options for recharging them. There’s the conventional option where you just plug the bike in at home, or remove the batteries and charge them up in the house. There will also be a Power Outlet Network, which is basically a giant public charger, and there will also be a Charge Point Network, made up for local businesses who will charge a battery for you (in about an hour). There will even be the option to rent extra batteries that can be stored under the seat, giving a claimed range of more than 125 miles between stops.

The really clever bit that holds all this together is a third ‘core’ battery that’s permanently stored in the vehicle, so that if you drop your batteries off somewhere to charge you can still carry on riding. Once the removable batteries are replaced, they automatically charge up the core battery so that it’s ready to go again. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well there are some sticking points.

Money, money, money

For this system to work, getting the infrastructure in place before the bikes go on sale is essential.

Kymco say they intend to have charging networks set up in 20 countries but that relies on them lobbying local governments for support. They’re also hoping to open up the Ionex battery network to other manufacturers and delivery companies to help get it off the ground. However, they see home charging as they key and aren’t too worried about convincing people to adopt. For now there’s no word on performance, weight, range, pricing, or when we can expect Ionex in the UK, but we’ll update you on this once we know more.


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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.