Swappable batteries, which can be exchanged in just five minutes, present a promising solution to the lengthy recharging times currently faced by electric vehicle (EV) users, eliminating the need to wait for up to an hour at recharging stations.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation has joined forces with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and other agencies to conduct research and development on a swappable battery platform specifically designed for electric motorcycles. This collaborative effort aims to accelerate Thailand’s transition towards becoming a regional hub for EV usage and manufacturing, in line with the country’s government policy.
This innovative swappable battery project supports the government’s ambitious “30@30” target, which aims to achieve 30% zero-emission vehicle usage in Thailand by 2030, according to Dr. Pimpa Limthongkul, director of the Clean Energy Innovation Research Group at the National Energy Technology Centre (NTEC).
Focusing on electric motorcycles is a strategic move for Thailand, where two-wheelers remain the most popular choice of transport among consumers. The EV motorcycle market has also experienced rapid growth, with registrations doubling to 7,300 last year. Despite this growth, electric bikes still make up a tiny fraction of the more than 2 million motorcycles produced in the country annually, primarily due to the higher costs and limited functionality of e-motorcycles compared to conventional models.
Known for their rich motorcycle culture, Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand have around 21 million bikes in use for various purposes, ranging from food and package delivery services to taxis and personal vehicles. Although electric motorcycles are available in a wide variety of models, their batteries are not yet up to par with consumer demands, requiring at least a 30-minute recharge time. As a result, battery swapping has emerged as an ideal alternative, allowing riders to exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one in the same amount of time it takes to refuel with gasoline.
Nonetheless, the absence of a standard for swappable batteries and charging stations in Thailand has made implementing this concept a challenge. The ongoing R&D project aims to create a standardized swappable battery pack system for electric motorcycles, enabling riders to seamlessly switch out their used batteries for fully charged replacements. The goal is to design a standard system compatible with various EV motorcycle brands and models, thereby facilitating a comprehensive battery-swapping network across the country.
Collaborators in this project include Beta Engineering Solution, GP Motor (Thailand), Bangchak, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, I-Motor Manufacturing, Gridwhiz (Thailand), NSTDA, and R&D support from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and Khon Kaen University.
The research team has already developed a prototype swappable battery system in accordance with international standards. The prototype includes two electric motorcycle models from different brands and battery swap cabinets installed at three charging stations. Testing and field trials are currently in progress.
According to Dr. Pimpa, a single standardized platform would allow multiple battery-swap service providers to share infrastructure, reducing installation costs and increasing convenience for EV bike users. This would also grant users access to the latest battery technology at swap stations, lower the production costs of electric motorcycles and battery packs, contribute to the disposal and recycling of end-of-life batteries, decrease pollution levels, and importantly, stimulate technological developments that would elevate Thailand’s automotive industry into a new era.
Furthermore, the project aims to develop additional standardized EV products and services at accessible price points, thereby encouraging widespread adoption of electric vehicles and fostering a market for innovative industrial and service sectors.