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The growth of electric motorcycles and battery safety

The growth of electric motorcycle market

Electric motorcycles and electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly becoming more popular, as there is an increasing need for sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation. Some advantages are zero carbon dioxide emissions and low running costs.

Advantages and disadvantages of electric motorcycles

While regular motorcycles use gasoline to power the engine, electric motorcycles are powered by a rechargeable battery that supplies electricity to the motor.

The differences between engine and electric motorcycles are as follows:

Gas-powered motorcycleElectric motorcycle
Exhaust gasEmittedNot emitted
Noise levelLoudQuieter than gas-powered motorcycle
Mileage/energy consumptionReasonableCheaper (full charge is significantly lower in cost than full tank of gas)
Range100 – 400 miles with full tank90 – 200+ miles with full charge
Refueling and rechargingTakes a few minutes at a gas stationTakes several hours (except for interchangeable types) at home or at charging station

Compared to a gas-powered motorcycle that can be refueled in a few minutes, it can take several hours for an electric motorcycle to fully charge, depending on the model and voltage rating of the lithium-ion battery installed. However, a major advantage lies in the running cost as the cost of charging is significantly cheaper than gasoline.

Lithium-ion batteries used in electric motorcycles

Lead-acid batteries are widely used in electric motorcycles because of the low cost. Although they are cheaper than other batteries, they are heavier and larger. For this reason, in recent years, an increasing number of models have adopted lithium-ion batteries. Compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are smaller, lighter, and have a higher voltage. In terms of energy density, which indicates battery capacity of the same volume and weight, lithium-ion batteries show much higher values than lead-acid batteries.

Another advantage of lithium-ion batteries is that it takes less time to fully charge than lead-acid batteries. Due to its small size compared to lead-acid batteries, charging can be more convenient as some models have removeable battery systems.

Battery charging methods include normal and fast charging, but repeated fast charging increases the load on the battery and tends to shorten battery life. For this reason, some electric motorcycles use low-load charging methods according to the type and characteristics of the battery.

As was shown in the comparison table above, electric motorcycles are inferior to gas-powered motorcycles in terms of range. A lightweight yet high-capacity battery is needed to obtain longer range. For this reason, the use of lithium-ion batteries in the electric motorcycle industry are growing.

The electric motorcycle dilemma

Electric motorcycles are expected to spread mainly in Asia as a way to reduce environmental impact, but there is a dilemma regarding the electrification of motorcycles.

One of the most important hurdle to overcome for EVs and electric motorcycles is the range. ​​In recent years, EVs with a range of 300 km – 400 km can be seen on the market. On the other hand, gas-powered motorcycles can travel more than 400 km on a single load, while only one-tenth of the distance can be covered on an electric one of the same type.

Battery capacity and total weight have a significant impact on the range of an electric motorcycle. Although a large-capacity battery can increase the range, the weight of the battery increases the weight of the vehicle. Hence, the more the vehicle weighs, the shorter the range.

EVs have faced a similar dilemma, but it was solved by using carbon fiber-reinforced plastic for the body frame to reduce their weight. On the other hand, electric motorcycles are small and relatively lightweight, so even if they use lightweight materials for the body, there is a limit to how much the weight can be reduced. In addition, the small size of the motorcycle body limits the space available for a battery. In other words, in order for the range of electric motorcycles to rival that of gas-powered motorcycles, improved battery performance is necessary.

Also, if an electric motorcycle uses a cartridge system with a replaceable battery, like an electric bicycle does, the motorcycle can continue to run with a replacement battery. Batteries in EVs are heavy and impossible for the user to replace, but the small, lightweight batteries in electric motorcycles can be replaced by the user.

The future of electric motorcycle market

The electric motorcycle market varies greatly from country to country. First of all, data show that global sales of motorcycles, including gas-powered vehicles, are about 53 million units per year, with a demand of about 47.7 million units. Of this total demand, more than 70% is in Asia and other countries where people use motorcycles as their daily means of transportation. China is said to account for about 17.8 million of these vehicles, making it the world’s largest motorcycle market. India also has a roughly equivalent production volume of 17.7 million units. This is followed by Indonesia with 5.8 million units, Vietnam with 3.2 million units, and Thailand with 2.3 million units. Pakistan, Brazil, and Taiwan are also said to produce more than 1 million units. On the other hand, demand in Japan and North America is not so high, with less than 400,000 units per year in Japan and about 600,000 units per year in North America.

To give an idea of how much of this volume is accounted for by electric motorcycles, annual sales in China are about 3 million units, and in India it’s about 140,000 to 150,000 units. Indonesia aims to have more than 13 million electric motorcycles by 2030, and is making efforts to further popularize them. Other Asian countries have set laws, regulations, and targets for the introduction of electric motorcycles to reduce CO2 emissions.

For example, in India, the use of electric motorcycles is expected to grow due to the following reasons including growing interest in environmental issues, government policies, increasing gasoline prices, improved charging infrastructure, and lower battery prices due to localized production and reduced cost of parts used in EVs. However, there are concerns such as long charging times, insufficient charging infrastructure in rural areas, high battery replacement costs, range, and acceleration/speed performance.

As mentioned earlier, it is not easy to increase the range of electric motorcycles, so some manufacturers are considering using replaceable batteries. Battery technology is advancing to increase capacity and improve resistance to degradation, vibration, and shock. Battery-sharing services are also being developed to unify battery standards. In addition, some countries are considering using electric motorcycles as a way to promote the expansion of renewable energy by connecting them to the power grids that supply electricity to households.

Electric motorcycles and Dexerials’ SCPs

Battery packs of 4V to 12V are used for laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Recently, lithium-ion batteries, which achieve high voltages of several tens of volts by connecting more than 10 cells in a single battery pack, have been used for power tools, emergency power supplies, electric bicycles, and electric motorcycles.

Dexerials’ SCPs (Self Control Protectors) are secondary protection fuses that safely interrupt circuits in the event of an overcharge or overcurrent. As the electric motorcycle market grows rapidly, demand for Dexerials’ SCPs will increase significantly to ensure the safety of high voltage lithium-ion batteries. Information about SCPs for high voltage application can be reviewed in this article.

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