Can Electric Scooters With Swappable Batteries Be Successful?
The concept of swappable batteries in electric vehicles has not been popular. The design of one EV model differs from that of another, so it becomes challenging to come up with standardization regarding EV batteries.
Singapore is currently experimenting with the feasibility of using swappable batteries for electric bikes. The postal services provider in the country has teamed up with Mo Batteries to see if the swappable batteries can alleviate the challenges pertaining to EV charging. The postal services company will be using two electric bikes which will support battery swapping.
Singapore post will be using two scooters with swappable battery technology for the trial. The trial will continue for three months. The electric bikes and the batteries will be provided by Mo Batteries.
The authorities will assess the success of this trial on four fronts -charging convenience, how easy it is to use these bikes and the battery technology, how easy it is to maintain the bikes and the batteries used for the trial, and how energy efficient the whole ecosystem is.
How The Entire Process Will Look Like
Battery companies, Mo Batteries, and Gogoro started working on the trial of swappable batteries last year onwards. While the trial undertaken by the two companies may seem similar, there is a fundamental difference between how the two companies are planning to distribute the batteries to the end users.
As far as Mo Batteries is concerned, the company will be using a centralized charging infrastructure in its internal premises. The charged batteries will then be transported to their stations where the electric bikes would come and replace the used-up battery with a charged one.
Gogoro, the second company taking part in the trial run of swappable batteries for electric scooters will be focusing on last-mile delivery. While Gogoro will be serving the food delivery and logistic companies, Mo Batteries will be focusing on serving Singapore Post.
The partnership between Mo Batteries and SingPost is a part of the regulatory Sandbox. A regulatory sandbox in Singapore is nothing but a trial of a service before it becomes mainstream.
If the trial becomes successful, it will help SingPost achieve its vision of operating a fully-electric fleet of bikes by 2026. SingPost is hoping to leverage its first-mover’s advantage of using electric bikes with swappable batteries.
How Feasible Is The Swappable Battery Technology?
Most leading electric car makers believe that using swappable batteries for heavy vehicles is not feasible. BMW considers the technology a waste of time. Replacing batteries, opening up the battery compartment of the car during replacement, keeping batteries in stock, etc make the whole affair cumbersome, resource-intensive, and time-consuming.
On the other hand, swappable batteries make sense when it comes to small vehicles like e-bikes. Using replaceable batteries in electric scooters won’t affect their structural integrity.
Standardization is another challenging aspect that swappable battery makers need to address. EV models differ from one another. Swappable battery makers would need to keep stock of different kinds of batteries to cater to an assortment of EVs.
It is to be seen how successful this trial run by SingPost and Mo Batteries becomes. The success of this trial run can make electric scooters more accessible and more convenient to use.