Honda delivered a new battery swapping station in Tokyo that’s looking mighty similar to the one Gogoro makes. The automaker’s new power pack exchanger lets electric motorcycle riders easily flip their depleting batteries for fresh ones instead of needing to wait around for a charge.
The Honda power station itself looks very similar to Gogoro’s: like a vending machine with a grid of battery packs that slide in and out of slots.
You can access fully charged batteries by interacting with the touchscreen, pulling one out, and popping in your discharged ones to charge up for use by the next rider. Honda’s system is authenticated via IC cards that get distributed to customers who sign up. The stations are also expandable to accommodate higher-usage corridors in cities.
The very first “Honda Power Pack Exchanger e:” station has now been delivered to Gachaco Inc., a joint venture with Japanese oil and energy company Eneos, as well as motorcycle manufacturers Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Gachaco is based in Tokyo and receives support from the city government as it has a 2035 goal to de-gasoline all new motorcycles to meet.
The standardized recyclable battery specification agreed upon by all the manufacturers is Honda’s Mobile Power Pack e: (MPP e:), which comes with a capacity of 1,314Wh and takes about five hours to fully charge. Eneos contributed the Battery as a Service platform (BaaS) it’s built on, with the idea of using these racks to store energy during peak production times and discharge electricity back into the grid when demand spikes.
A single charged sell can also power the power pack exchanger station if the power is out — helping commuters not get stranded. And if the rack looks a bit plain, that’s apparently on purpose, with an eye toward creating an “unimposing cabinet design” that fades into the background of public spaces.
Gogoro’s been pushing this idea for years; now, Honda and this assortment of mobility giants are taking them on. “One of the things that was pretty obvious to us was the growing need that these mega cities would have for energy — better energy consumption and distribution,” Gogoro CEO Horace Luke told The Verge in 2015. Since then, the company has installed over 2,300 battery swap stations, according to recent CNBC reporting.
Honda is also following Gogoro into India, where the automaker set up a subsidiary company to help push electric bikes and rickshaws. Last year, Honda said it was investing $45 billion in R&D to make rockets, robots, and electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs).