SWAPPABLE BATTERIES TO POWER UP EUROPE’S GREEN MOBILITY
The ECOSWAP project accelerates fast charging and boosts sustainable motorbikes
European cities have their fair share of narrow streets, cramped passages and tight parking spots, and that’s why more and more of the micromobility industry is dominating roads across the continent. “More people will be living in cities and the space will be limited for everyone” Jordi Caus, the head of concepts & platforms connectivity management at SEAT MÓ explained.
Europe’s fleet of conventional motorbikes don’t address some of the most pressing challenges facing urban areas, like noise and air pollution. They hold the continent back from its ever sought after goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that’s where electric motorcycles come into play. The electric motorbike fleet in Europe currently only makes up a small fraction of the 30 million powered two-wheelers in the continent.
SEAT MÓ with the support of EIT Urban Mobility, is leading a consortium which includes manufacturers, local entities, institutions, and cities for a total of 9 participating entities (SEAT, SEAT CODE, Silence, Barcelona, Sant Boi, BSM, CARNET, Idneo and Ficosa). Together they’re looking to boost the uptake of electric motorbikes through the project ‘ECOSWAP’. The concept “will try to [stomp out] the barriers that face a customer when they want to acquire an electric motorbike” said Jordi Caus.
The focus of the project is a sustainable fast-charging ‘ECOSWAP’ battery system. It allows drivers to buy a batteryless electric motorcycle which will be significantly cheaper for the customer, but, we know what you’re thinking, if it doesn’t come with a battery, how does it work? Enter the electric motorbike battery sharing scheme. With a subscription service, customers can choose to participate in a swap-and-go battery ecosystem where electric motorcycle batteries are shared. The batteries will be kept at dealerships, workshops, or BSM parking lots. When a user is running low, they just need to go into one of the charging stations and swap a depleted battery for a fully charged one, mimicking the fast refuel dynamics of petrol-based motorbikes. The scheme not only significantly cuts costs for customers, it has the potential of amplifying electric motorbike sales, which could translate into a drop in carbon emissions, thus helping to improve the planet. “All these different modes combined bring a better quality of life for our citizens" said Caus.
The project aims to fill the gap in mobility as Caus explained: “Our solution tries to complement public transport(…) it cannot fulfil all requirements for cities and the only answer cannot be only [using] private cars which occupy much more space, so therefore with our solution, we only make electric motorbikes more affordable [to] have a better market penetration.”
It’s clear to see that SEAT MÓ’s DNA runs through ECOSWAP. The subsidiary company of SEAT is “responsible for micromobility and mobility services”, it “aims to transform automotive problems into a new mobility service provider.”
ECOSWAP is first being piloted in Barcelona, one of Europe’s leading motorbike-friendly cities. After being rolled out in Barcelona, it will be heading to Verona, Italy in 2023. SEAT MÓ is looking forward to seeing ECOSWAP in urban areas across the continent, “with this swapping solution we make it more inclusive(…) every kind of citizen can have a convenient solution of electric mobility. No matter the age or the gender of the people, it’s a convenient solution(…) it’s suitable for everyone.” Caus said.
The project will also test the user-friendliness and accessibility of battery swapping stations, specifically their durability. In addition to this, there’ll be a focus on identifying the optimal number of battery slots at charging hubs and where the best locations for stations are. The different business models investigating scaling capabilities in urban areas will also be tested and validated during pilots in Spain.