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KTM AG, Honda Motor, Yamaha Motor and Piaggio Group have formed an international consortium to develop a standardised swappable battery system to promote the technology as an alternative to fixed battery electric vehicles in a bid to bring down both vehicle prices and charging periods.

Battery swapping is a model in which the discharged battery of an electric vehicle (EV) could be removed and exchanged for a charged one at public charging stations for a quick recharge. The vehicles are usually sold without a battery, thus bringing down the upfront cost and making them more competitive with conventional vehicles. Batteries could account for almost half the price of an EV.

The system however has a few disadvantages, mainly in the form of standardisation as different manufacturers use different shapes and sizes of batteries. The software, called the battery management system, are also different to suit the specifications of each manufacturer.

The consortium looks to standardise battery specifications for vehicles like mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles to promote battery swapping.

“An international standard for the swappable batteries system will make this technology efficient and at the disposal of the consumers,” Michele Colaninno, Piaggio Group Chief of strategy and product said in a statement on Tuesday.

The consortium will start its activities from May this year and the founding members want more manufacturers to join them, as per a joint statement. It will work in cooperation with

“Also, by extending the range, shortening the charging time and lowering vehicle and infrastructure costs, the manufacturers will try to answer customers’ main concerns regarding the future of electromobility,” the statement further read.

In India, the road transport and highways ministry had in August notified that manufacturers could now sell electric two- and three-wheelers without a battery, opening the avenue for battery swapping. The ministry said that batteries can then be sold separately by the manufacturer or an energy service provider.

Sun Mobility, led by Reva founder Chetan Maini, has been developing battery swapping solutions but the company is yet to achieve mainstream success. Manufacturers like Ather Energy and Mahindra and Mahindra use fixed battery solutions for their electric vehicles, while Piaggio India has launched an electric three-wheeler with battery swapping.