By: Ryan Citron
The faceless girl uses the mobile application to pay and unlock the rental electric scooter. … [+]
A wide variety of micromobility vendors—such as Raido, Bolt Mobility, TIER Mobility GmbH, Dott, Neuron, JUMP, Revel, and Gogoro—are developing and using battery swapping technology to make their products more convenient and their businesses more profitable. With the guarantee of saving time and operating expenses, battery swapping is an exciting opportunity for all forms of micromobility sharing. Beyond the obvious benefit of reduced downtime for recharging, which increases vehicle availability and improves returns, battery swapping can be useful for maintaining strong battery life and introducing vehicle-to-grid opportunities.
Strategies and Business Models Vary
The strategic approach to battery swapping varies by company. Startups such as Raido are developing universal swappable batteries that can be installed on any electric kick (e-kick) scooter in 10 minutes. These batteries would enable established sharing operators such as Lime or Bird to adopt battery swapping widely throughout their fleet. Raido claims that its solution reduces the operational cost of recharging e-scooters by 50% to 80%.
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Some shared micromobility service providers such as Bolt Mobility, Dott, Neuron, Revel, and TIER Mobility are already integrating battery swapping capabilities throughout their fleets as they realize its benefits. For example, roughly 80% of TIER Mobility’s 40,000 deployed e-kick scooters have swappable battery technology, and all of Revel’s seated e-scooters use battery swapping.
In Taiwan, Gogoro offers a range of seated e-scooters for private sale and provides a network of more than 1,600 shared battery swapping vending machines. (The company sells consumers its seated e-scooters but owns the batteries.) Gogoro is managing over 200,000 battery swaps per day at its swapping locations for a $25 monthly subscription. The company’s battery swapping stations connect to the cloud, run automated diagnostics tests, and can coordinate with electricity grid demand in cities, charging batteries only at times when energy demand is low.
Adoption Will Be Mixed Across Use Cases
The value of battery swapping is a highly debated topic in the micromobility industry. While battery swapping lowers operational costs through avoiding transport of e-scooters for charging and redistribution, it introduces drawbacks. Batteries used in swapping applications generally need to be smaller and have additional electronics to connect them. Service operators will also need to have roughly 1.5 batteries of inventory for every e-scooter, causing capital costs to rise and reducing the environmental benefits of reduced truck rolls. Guidehouse Insights expects battery swapping to increasingly be integrated into e-kick scooter sharing services that use smaller batteries and have high ridership rates (over 10 rides per day per vehicle).
However, services that use e-kick scooters with long ranges (e.g., Superpedestrian’s LINK service uses vehicles with 55 miles of range) are unlikely to use battery swapping, as the number of charging interventions needed is much lower compared to other services. For more information and analysis on emerging technology trends in micromobility, such as data sharing, wireless charging, and automation, see Guidehouse Insights’ upcoming Micromobility Sharing Services report.