Ahead of the Tokyo Motorcycle Show, which we’ll be covering over the next few days, Kymco have unveiled the Ionex electric scooter that 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 all? Removable batteries.
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 like with cars 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 things to people all over the world, starting here: Ionex.
The key to the Ionex system is lightweight, removeable batteries. On the first bike they have shown from the Ionex range, 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 under seat storage compartment of any of the bikes.
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 be a Power Outlet Network, that’s a bit like a giant vending machine where riders can recharge batteries. 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 over 200km 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 removeable batteries are replaced, they automatically charge up the core battery so that it’s ready to go again. Kymco imagine that you might ride into town from home, drop the batteries off at a coffee shop, ride to the shops, ride back to the coffee shop to pick up your freshly recharged batteries and ride home. 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.
For now there’s no word on performance, weight, range, pricing or when we can expect Ionex in the UK but we’ll update this page once we know more.