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Japanese motorcycle makers join energy company Eneos in battery swapping partnership

The iconic Japanese motorcycle brands Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha are joining the Japanese energy company Eneos in creating Gachaco Inc, a specialized company for battery swapping infrastructure.

Gachaco will launch its first services by the autumn of 2022 using Honda Mobile Power Pack e:, a 1.3 kWh swappable module launched by Honda in 2021. In Tokyo and other major cities in Japan the power packs will be available at convenient locations such as railway stations and Eneos service stations. The other motorcycle makers have agreed to use the same standard for their electric motorcycles.

Eneos have previously launched several BaaS (Battery-as-a-Service) initiatives including a investment in, and partnership with US startup Ample for battery swapping in electric cars in Japan. In 2021 the company also launched a BaaS program with Mirai-Labo in which modules are being standardized for first, second and even a third use for which Mirai-Labo has developed applications such as solar-powered street lighting and mobile power packs This program will now be used by Gachaco.

Gachaco has several similarities with Taiwanese battery swapping company Gogoro which started as a scooter company but which today is licensing its swapping platform to other scooter companies, including Yamaha. Just like Gogoro, Gachaco also has the ambition to use the battery modules for other purposes as well such as residential and commercial energy storage.

Both in South and Southeast Asia the number of battery swapping companies and partnerships are increasing in a rapid pace. Scooters, three-wheelers and other personal mobility vehicles are the most common applications while swapping of electric car batteries is gaining momentum in China, with initiatives launched by BEIC, Nio, Geely and CATL. In Europe the scooter sharing companies such as Tier and Lime have launched various reuse programs and have replaced scooters using fixed batteries with scooters with swappable batteries.

From an end-of-life perspective the BaaS model is a game changer as the control of the batteries is retained over the entire lifetime which will be as important for reuse as for recycling of the batteries. From a commercial perspective this importance is however most likely dwarfed by the ability to better monetize batteries even during their first life and to build barriers to entry by design.

Gachaco will be owned to 51% by Eneos, 34% by Honda while the other brands will own 5% each.

Read more about Gachaco here.

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