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Honda testing swappable battery pack on electric rickshaw in India

This is the first time that Honda, a leader in India’s petrol-powered scooter and 125cc motorcycle space, is testing its technology on three-wheelers in the country

June 02, 2021 / 08:51 AM IST
 
 
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Honda Motor Company is testing a mobile battery pack used for powering electric three-wheelers or rickshaws in India as part of its project on swappable battery technology for electric vehicles.

The Japanese auto giant is testing the Honda Mobile Power Pack, a portable and swappable battery that stores electricity for use as a power source for small-sized electric mobility such as an electric two or three-wheeler.

This is the first time that Honda, a leader in India’s petrol-powered scooter and 125cc motorcycle space, is testing its technology on three-wheelers in the country. The company, however, has no fixed plans to launch battery-powered electric three-wheelers in India as yet.

“Honda is conducting a demonstration testing of battery sharing business using electric tricycle taxis (rickshaws) equipped with swappable Honda Mobile Power Pack. The purpose of this demonstration testing is to verify the business and technological feasibility of battery sharing business,” said a response from Honda Motorcycle Scooter India (HMSI) on a query sent by Moneycontrol.

“As the project is currently in the testing phase, there are no fixed plans for product introduction or commercial launch which can be shared at this time,” HMSI added.

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Over the last couple of years, the electric three-wheeler segment has seen very strong participation from traditional automotive heavyweights and start-ups. Mahindra & Mahindra, Piaggio, Omega Seiki, Kinetic Green, Altigreen, Etrio to name a few retail electric three-wheelers.

Some of these models have swappable battery technology wherein a power-depleted battery powering an electric vehicle can be replaced by a battery that is fully charged by the user of such vehicle without seeking any technical help.

In August last year, the government decided to allow electric two and three-wheelers to be registered without their batteries in the hope to accelerate the uptake of electric mobility. As batteries make up 30-50 percent of the cost of the electric vehicle this was done to give demand a major fillip.

Honda remains the only large two-wheeler brand in India that has not spoken in favour of launching electric two-wheelers in India. Its rivals like Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor Company have either launched battery electric two-wheelers or are in advanced stages of launching them.

But by 2024 Honda is planning to have at least three battery-electric models in classes with engine sizes of below 125cc. The company is planning on launching a fully electric bike which would be comparable with large capacity bikes defined by Honda as Fun bikes.

However, Honda has not made any specific comment about launch plans of such battery electric two-wheelers in India. But India may not be off the radar for Honda as far as electric vehicles are concerned as it is the largest market in the world for two-wheelers for the company.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Jun 2, 2021 08:51 am

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