Taiwan-based KYMCO, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs, has just announced a new battery-swapping program that could decrease the upfront costs of buying one of its vehicles by turning their most expensive component — the battery — into a rental.
KYMCO already has a battery swapping program, allowing electric scooter riders to pay for battery swapping on a membership basis instead of buying the battery outright. It has already performed millions of swaps in the field, mostly in Taiwan.
The company is hoping to expand this program by extending its Ionex battery platform and allowing energy companies to offer Ionex battery swapping (which they are calling “Battery-as-a-Service”) at their existing locations, such as gas stations.
“The Ionex Battery-as-a-Service allows energy companies to focus on developing and supplying batteries with the best technology for all-electric motorcycle riders,” said Vincent Wong, senior vice president of EVE Energy.
Battery swapping is not a new concept, but it has yet to catch on for cars. Tesla tried a version of it back in 2013 but ended up abandoning the project with little fanfare. Motorcycles and scooters seem like a better fit at present, as their smaller batteries can be much more easily removed and replaced.
There is one car company in China, NIO, that has built 2,000 battery swap stations and is apparently operating successfully, so it is possible that this sort of battery membership system will eventually make its way to the United States as well.
As The Verge pointed out, battery swapping would make the most sense for things like delivery fleets, which travel along set routes and are currently dealing with the issue of losing large amounts of time for charging as the industry begins to electrify.
Battery swapping has “taken off already in China like gang busters. Literally millions of swaps are happening,” wrote one Electrek commenter.
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