Valeo step into battery power: Hopes for a low-cost route to electric bikes
Valeo might not be a household name but they’re among the world’s biggest automotive parts suppliers with 187 production facilities and 67 R&D bases across 33 countries – so their intention to start supplying low-cost electric powertrains for motorcycles could lead to a host of affordable battery-powered bikes.
The new powertrain comprises an air-cooled electric motor that’s good for 9.4kW (12.6bhp), mounted into compact package with a single-speed transmission and electronic control unit.
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The whole lot weighs in at under 17kg and is designed to be simple to fit – as illustrated by the prototype seen here, with the Valeo powertrain mounted in a SuperSoco TC-Max, nearly doubling its power compared to the stock 5kW motor and making for a bike with performance equivalent to a petrol-powered 125.
It’s designed to work with 48V batteries, which are fast becoming something of a benchmark for small electric motorcycles.
Japan’s ‘big four’ companies have already established specs for a standardised, swappable 48V motorcycle battery pack and a European consortium including Honda, Yamaha, Piaggio and KTM is working on developing a similar battery standard.
Leveraging economies of scale, Valeo’s air-cooled motor is based on an existing design that’s used in several hybrid cars as a starter/generator/hybrid motor. It’s also similar to the motor Valeo supplies to the all-electric Citroen Ami city car, already available on the continent and coming to the UK later this year.
The firm says that the powertrain is targeted at Asian markets and manufacturers, where production numbers are very high, although its learner-legal performance and the expected low price means it could be a tempting off-the-shelf option for any motorcycle maker hoping to make the move to electric power.