The past year has seen the electric motorcycle market take numerous major steps forward. Harley-Davidson finally showed off its production LiveWire, Zero released the super-cool upgraded SR/F naked streetfighter, Buell announced it is relaunching as an electric brand, Honda announced the CR Electric prototype, Husqvarna showed off a knobby electric minibike and Japan's Big 4 (Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki) reportedly agreed to work together on electric motorcycle standards. A new chapter in the electric two-wheeler story has been added this week, with the discovery of a Kawasaki patent that explores the idea of a sport bike with batteries that could be easily swapped.
The idea of battery swapping has been a topic of discussion for years. Although auto manufacturers have been able to push beyond previous battery limitations with chemical improvements and the advantage of space and size, smaller vehicles such as motorcycles are still dealing with the idea of range anxiety. The most obvious, but extremely complicated, solution is battery swapping. Last year Honda announced it was partnering with Panasonic to trial battery swapping with small motorcycles in Indonesia. Now it appears Kawasaki has been exploring similar tech.
This patent was first filed in July 3, 2013, but it wasn't published until March 27, 2019. It reveals three things: Kawasaki is researching and developing the idea of an electric motorcycle; that electric motorcycle could be based on the sporty Ninja; and that Ninja could potentially be designed in a way that allows battery swapping.
As seen in the images, such an innovation relies on a detachable frame and a device that pulls the battery unit from the motorcycle. The left-hand-side of the tubular frame, behind the head of the bike, would first be uncoupled to expose the battery pack. Leaving the motor in the motorcycle, the battery could then be extracted with what appears to be some type of stand. The depleted battery could then be replaced with a fully charged unit, and the rider could be on his or her way.
As of now, this is only a patent, so nothing is guaranteed, and Kawasaki did not yet respond to Autoblog for comment. But the idea, paired with the knowledge that the Big 4 are working together, could mean exciting things to come.