Isuzu Believes Battery-Swapping Stations Could Revolutionize Electric Vehicle Adoption
Isuzu has unveiled its latest innovation at this year’s Japan Mobility Show, and it could be a game-changer for the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Isuzu believes that battery-swapping stations could be the key to unlocking the full potential of EVs, particularly for light trucks that require minimal downtime and maximum hours on the road.
The battery-swapping station, known as the EVision Cycle Concept, is compatible with Isuzu’s upcoming N Series electric light truck, which is set to launch in Australia in 2025. Isuzu plans to conduct trials in their home market before potentially expanding globally.
According to Konstantin Kriegelsteiner, Isuzu Motors Limited Vice-President of Corporate Strategy Division, these swapping stations could significantly reduce the running costs of electric trucks, bringing them closer to the price range of diesel trucks. By optimizing battery usage and utilizing smaller batteries that can be swapped out quickly, Isuzu aims to make electric trucks more accessible and cost-effective.
Currently, Isuzu’s electric N Series truck is available in various configurations with battery capacities ranging from 20kWh to 100kWh. However, due to the truck’s size and utility, even the 100kWh battery can only provide a range of approximately 200km.
With the battery-swapping concept, Isuzu addresses the issue of limited lithium resources needed for battery production. Rather than relying on larger batteries that require lengthy recharge times, Isuzu focuses on maximizing uptime by enabling quick and easy battery module swaps. Depleted 20kWh battery modules can be replaced in about three minutes, allowing truck drivers to stay on the road without significant downtime.
Kriegelsteiner emphasizes that Isuzu’s approach is not only about improving efficiency but also about considering the broader social perspective. He explains that there is not enough lithium in the world to replace every internal-combustion engine with a battery electric truck. Therefore, Isuzu proposes a shift in mindset, suggesting that vehicles should only carry enough electricity to cover their daily workload. This approach would ensure that there are enough batteries for everyone.
Additionally, the versatility of removable battery packs opens up possibilities for powering other devices and has global applications. Kriegelsteiner mentions the potential for supplying electricity to areas with unreliable electric networks, such as Southeast Asia and Africa. Isuzu envisions using these batteries to deliver electricity to remote villages or even for recreational purposes like powering outdoor activities.
Isuzu’s vision extends beyond truck transportation, as the company is also known for its expertise in power generators and other industrial engines. They foresee a future where there will be increased demand for larger power units that surpass the needs of a regular campsite.
It’s worth noting that Isuzu is not the only company exploring battery-swapping technology for trucks. Mitsubishi’s Fuso, majority owned by Daimler Truck, has also showcased its solution, and Janus Electric has developed swap-and-go technology in Australia. However, the main challenge lies in achieving uniformity and cooperation across multiple brands. Currently, none of the proposed technologies are interoperable, requiring brands to align on battery size, position, and composition, while also ensuring compatibility with various body styles and dimensions.
In Australia, Isuzu Trucks sees the potential for this technology in the local market but has yet to make concrete plans for its implementation.
Battery-swapping stations could be a groundbreaking solution for the widespread adoption of electric trucks, bringing down running costs and minimizing downtime. Isuzu’s approach to battery optimization and quick swaps provides an intriguing alternative to relying solely on larger batteries and highlights the potential for global applications beyond just transportation. While challenges remain in achieving industry-wide standardization, the future of battery-swapping technology looks promising.