Honda's hot-swappable batteries could power future EVs

Need a little more range for your all-electric scooter of the future? Dropping in one or two of these might be just the ticket.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

There are just a few shortcomings left to keep EVs from mass-market adoption, with range and slow recharges being primary among them. But, a vision of a future, hot-swappable battery pack from Honda might be the solution.

At CEATEC 2017 in Japan, Honda is demonstrating prototype versions of small, boxy battery packs the company calls Mobile Power Packs. They can be easily removed and replaced thanks to an integrated connector on the bottom and a big, comfortable handle at the top. If you need a little more range in your electric scooter, or perhaps the power is out and your in-home battery-backup is running dry, you can just grab the battery pack and throw in a new one.

Honda Mobile Power Packs on display in Japan

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In addition to the battery pack, Honda showed off a swapping station, where you could quickly drop off your depleted battery and grab a fresh, fully charged unit. So, in this way the batteries aren't actually any quicker to charge, but assuming enough of a supply the swapping is near-instantaneous.

The system is very much like that used by Gogoro, the electric-scooter startup that has visions of eventually providing battery packs for all sorts of personal and business uses. Honda, too, envisions these packs finding their way onto desks and into other situations where you need a little juice.

And "little" might actually be the main fault of these packs. Though somewhat heavy at 10kg (just over 22 pounds), they offer just a single killowatt hour of charge. That's about one-tenth that found in most Zero electric motorcycles, meaning this will be best-suited for small scooters that don't need to go very far and remote locations that need just a little power to get by. Smart, then, that Honda is starting testing on the Mobile Power Packs in the Philippines next year. Small scooters are very commonplace there, and according to the government's Department of Energy, its power grid several "major grid disturbances and load dropping incidents" lat year. Perfect testing ground, then.