India's Blacksmith plans production of electric motorcycle with swappable batteries
Blacksmith Electric is tooling up to give riders a very grand, very Indian take on electric motorcycling. The Blacksmith B2, currently in its third generation of prototyping, offers up to 240 km (150 mi) of range, with swappable battery packs for quick top-ups.
With much of the Western world focused on high-performance electric sports and naked bikes, and much of Asia making cheap, anonymous, somewhat boring commuters, there's a hole in the market – particularly in India – for something electric that fulfils the role the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 plays in Indian bike culture. Something with a sense of grandeur and stateliness about it. Something comfortable and a touch regal. An unhurried bike with style, as well as the capability to deal with India's wildly variable road conditions. An aspirational bike.
While the teaser images we've got here don't show you much, the prototype video at the bottom of this piece gives us a sense of what the Blacksmith B2 might be going for. And it's different enough to be very noteworthy.
The performance figures won't knock you out. The B2 will rock a 5-kW (6.7-hp) continuous motor that can deliver peak power and torque figures of 14.5 kW (19.4 hp) and 96 Nm (71 lb-ft) for short bursts. With a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph), it's highway-capable, and it can run either one or two removable battery packs, for range figures of 120 or 240 km (75 or 150 mi).
Charge time is four hours, but Blacksmith managed to grab the Indian patent for battery swap technology back in 2006, and plans to offer riders the ability to quickly switch dead batteries for full ones at fireproof battery exchange stations. The removable batteries can also easily be hauled inside for charging if you don't have a parking spot with a power outlet.
Its third-gen prototype has logged some 7,000 km (4,350 mi) on the roads around the company's home town of Chennai, and Blacksmith has told EVNerds it plans to start production in 2020, with a target price around 2 to 2.5 lakh rupees (about US$4,250 to $5,000) and a desire to move units internationally as well as in India.
But it's the design that's got us interested. It's a unique sort of cross between a cruiser and an old-school police bike, with unexpectedly squared-off edges, a huge screen up front, a mile-long wheelbase, an array of dials and switches on the tank and a fancy bent-tube rear fender behind the integrated panniers and twin rear shocks. We can see the kind of military meets Maharaja meets classic car kind of vibe it's aiming at, and we're interested to see how it's executed in production.
Check out the Blacksmith B2 in the video below.
Source: Blacksmith Electric
Update: Blacksmith has been in touch to confirm that the production B2 will look much closer to the renders above than to the bike in the video below.
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Swappable batteries, how revolutionary.. (just like has been the norm in many non automotive battery powered devices since the dawn of time.)
Who would design an electric Bike without removable / swappable battery?
In cars the problem is one of packaging, for any decent range the battery tends to be "fairly" large and heavy.. Packaging it in such a way that it is protected in a crash and yet easily removable (even in individual modules) has proven a "sticky" problem. (However a viable battery lease / swap system would make e-cars more desirable, not only for fast changes on the go, but leave the battery longevity and recharging liability in the hands of third party vendors who will endeavour to operate in a "for profit" mode. )
For an (e)Motorbike (especially in Asia) the target market is one where many hundreds of thousands (or millions) of units would be sold into geographically small areas, making swap and go very viable.
Performance isn't something people in "non-developed" countries desire first and foremost - lifecycle cost is more important - as this will be principally a mode of transport, whereas "most" motorcycles in the western world are used for sport and leisure more than principal transport. Performance wise all they have to compete with is a 97cc Hero. or some other 125-160cc "general purpose bike".