Husqvarna lead the charge towards swappable batteries for bikes
Electric bikes have been meandering towards the mainstream for years but Husqvarna’s upcoming E-Pilen could be the first proper motorcycle to adopt a new standard for swappable batteries.
That’s a big deal because the ability to change instead of charge a bike’s batteries means refuelling stops turn from hours-long inconveniences to tasks that take seconds – quicker, cleaner and cheaper than refilling a petrol bike’s tank.
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That leads to a beneficial circle: fast, painless refills eliminate 'range anxiety', allowing manufacturers to make shorter-range electric bikes with smaller, lighter battery packs, which in turn makes the bike quicker and more manoeuvrable.
The E-Pilen, a near-production concept, is the first fruit of a joint effort between Husky’s parent firm, Pierer Mobility, and its partner and shareholder Bajaj to create a whole range of electric vehicles from 4kW to 11kW (5hp to 15hp) around a standardised 48-volt lithium-ion battery.
Both the 48-volt construction and the apparent size and shape of the E-Pilen’s three battery packs are close to those used in Honda’s first production electric bikes, the PCX Electric – leased in small numbers in Asia – and the commercially-targeted Benly-e and Gyro-e models.
Honda are in a consortium with Husky’s sister firm KTM, along with Piaggio and Yamaha to establish a set of common standards for swappable motorcycle batteries in Europe.
Honda have already established a set of standards in a separate Japanese consortium alongside Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. So it makes sense for KTM – and therefore Husqvarna – to be using batteries that match these specs.
International standardisation, which is something that the electric car industry has failed to achieve, could allow bikes to leapfrog cars in the race to electrification. The specs set by Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM and Piaggio – presuming both the Japanese and European consortia agree on the same standards – will effectively create the 'AA' battery of motorcycles, widely available and usable across a host of different products.
Honda are even planning lawnmowers and quad bikes based on the same unit. As an added benefit, the cells can easily be taken indoors to charge at home, which is useful for people with no off-road parking.
The E-Pilen – which will also surely appear with different styling as an electric KTM – has three 48v packs for a total 144v, driving an 8kW (10.7hp) motor. A 4kW scooter is also planned.
Husqvarna E-Pilen concept explored:
Shared DNA The E-Pilen’s frame, suspension, wheels, brakes and swingarm are all shared with the next-generation KTM 125, 250 and 390 Duke models, which have already been spied in near-finished form.
Slots right in The E-Pilen’s three 48-volt batteries slot diagonally into a box where the ‘tank’ would normally be, sliding down between the frame.
Keeping it safe As well as sharing standardised voltages, dimensions, connectors and charging rates, swappable bike batteries need to be waterproof and shockproof.
Pokier than a 125 Although 8kW (11.7hp) doesn’t sound like much, that will be the bike’s 'continuous' power rating. For short bursts, it’s likely to have significantly more power on tap, giving higher performance than a 125cc petrol engine while still being legal for L-plate use.
Rapid swap stops While the E-Pilen’s 62-mile range might sound short, the convenience of quickly swapping batteries rather than waiting for them to recharge should more than compensate. Swappable batteries also mean range could improve in the future as battery tech advances.
Husqvarna E-Pilen concept unveiled: Electric urban mobility with style
First published on 26 April, 2021 by Ben Clarke
Husqvarna have become the latest manufacturer to join the electric motorbike market with a new model concept called the E-Pilen. The bike has a 125-rivalling 10.7bhp and a range of 62 miles, putting it in the same urban mobility category as machines like the Super Soco TC Max.
Looks-wise, the E-Pilen would sit comfortably beside its petrol stablemates, the Svartpilen and Vitpilen models with the same angular "tank", five-spoke wheels, retro styling cues like the single round headlight and a chopped rear end.
Husqvarna have also said that they are keeping an open mind about constantly-evolving battery tech and as such the E-Pilen features a swappable battery that can simply be replaced with a fully charged item when needed.
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That would make sense given that sister company, KTM announced their commitment to a battery standardisation consortium with Honda, Piaggio and Yamaha at the start of 2021.
"It has always been the aim of Husqvarna Motorcycles to develop new products accessible to the broadest possible spectrum of riders," reads a statement from Husky. "The E-mobility range will retain and continue the riding pleasure and dynamics refined through the long history and experience of the brand. In support of the E-mobility initiative, Husqvarna Motorcycles will strategically expand its dealer presence in urban and metropolitan areas."
MCN will have full details of the new Husqvarna E-Pilen as they are released.