Motorcycles

World's first supercapacitor-hybrid electric motorcycle will get a chance to prove itself

World's first supercapacitor-h...
The lower part of the Nawa Racer's body houses 9 kWh of lithium batteries and the upper part holds a 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor that Nawa says can nearly double its urban range
The lower part of the Nawa Racer's body houses 9 kWh of lithium batteries and the upper part holds a 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor that Nawa says can nearly double its urban range
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The lower part of the Nawa Racer's body houses 9 kWh of lithium batteries and the upper part holds a 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor that Nawa says can nearly double its urban range
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The lower part of the Nawa Racer's body houses 9 kWh of lithium batteries and the upper part holds a 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor that Nawa says can nearly double its urban range
A fully functional dynamic prototype is under construction, with a chance to prove the validity of Nawa's claims
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A fully functional dynamic prototype is under construction, with a chance to prove the validity of Nawa's claims
The non-functional CES concept bike made enough of a splash that Nawa has decided to build this thing for real, showcasing the potential of its ultracapacitor systems in the EV world
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The non-functional CES concept bike made enough of a splash that Nawa has decided to build this thing for real, showcasing the potential of its ultracapacitor systems in the EV world
The hubless rear wheel almost goes unnoticed on such a radically futuristic design
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The hubless rear wheel almost goes unnoticed on such a radically futuristic design
View gallery - 4 images

Audacious French company Nawa showed off a concept bike in 2019, claiming its supercapacitor-hybrid battery pack could massively boost power and urban range for electric motorcycles. Now, it seems we'll get a chance to see if the numbers stack up.

We've been following Nawa since 2018, when we first spoke to these guys about the potential benefits of using powerful ultracapacitors alongside energy-dense lithium batteries to extend the range and boost the peak power of electric vehicles.

The company wrapped the idea up into a futuristic-looking concept bike for CES 2020, and put some outrageous figures to its claims. Using a 9-kWh lithium battery, you would expect to get around 180 km (110 miles) of urban riding out of a full charge. The Nawa Racer proposed that adding a 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor to the system would boost that range up to around 300 km (180 miles), while unlocking some serious acceleration power to boot.

How? Well, ultracapacitors might not store much energy by weight or volume – indeed, the 0.1-kWh ultracapacitor is about as big as the entire 9-kWh battery on the racer – but they can charge and discharge much faster than lithium batteries. Nawa claims that battery-powered EVs are limited in their regenerative braking capabilities by the speed at which their batteries can receive charge, and that its ultracaps can do the job so much better that you can get radical leaps in urban range, as well as bonus boost power, for less than what it'd cost you to upsize the battery.

The non-functional CES concept bike made enough of a splash that Nawa has decided to build this thing for real, showcasing the potential of its ultracapacitor systems in the EV world
The non-functional CES concept bike made enough of a splash that Nawa has decided to build this thing for real, showcasing the potential of its ultracapacitor systems in the EV world

We keep stressing this is about urban range, because an ultracapacitor will do nothing to help your bike fight wind resistance for long stretches on the highway. This is all about start-stop use cases around town, where the capacitor can turn as much stop energy back into start energy as possible.

Now, we've had a couple of skeptics quietly question the validity of the Nawa Racer's claims off the record, saying that high-performance lithium batteries can accept charge quickly enough that you'd have to be braking pretty damn hard before the battery becomes a bottleneck and an ultracapacitor starts grabbing enough extra energy to make an appreciable difference in range.

We don't pretend to know the answers, but it looks like we might get a chance to find out. Nawa says it received such a positive reaction to the Racer that it's teaming up with a group of specialists to build a fully functional prototype.

With Nawa founder and CTO Pascal Boulanger supplying the initial sketches, the design work was handled by Envisage Group in the UK. Moving forward, Akka Technologies will be developing the powertrain and aluminum body for the bike, FAAR SAS will be developing the battery management system, and its subsidiary Pronergy is working on a multi-mode electronic power distribution system capable of balancing loads between the battery and ultracapacitor to achieve specific goals. The bike will be tested by YSY Group.

The hubless rear wheel almost goes unnoticed on such a radically futuristic design
The hubless rear wheel almost goes unnoticed on such a radically futuristic design

This upcoming "dynamic prototype" is expected to make its debut in Q3 this year, and we'll be very interested to see how it performs. Supercapacitor tech made a fairly spectacular debut in the production automotive world in the Lamborghini Sian, but its potential alongside battery-electric systems could yet prove to be a game-changer in the EV world.

Nawa is comfortable making some pretty extraordinary claims; this is the same company that says its "world's fastest electrodes" using vertically aligned carbon nanotubes can triple the energy-carrying capacity of lithium batteries, and potentially unlock even bigger energy storage gains using non-lithium battery chemistries – without adding much to the price.

So it's great to see Nawa making moves to build the Racer and have a separate company put it to the test so we can all see what happens when the rubber meets the road. Watch this space, and check out the video showing the design of the bike below.

Nawa Racer - world's first hybrid ultracapacitor battery-powered e-bike

Source: Nawa Technologies

View gallery - 4 images
12 comments
12 comments
Cali Manthini
MANTHINI has done this since 2018 on a working eBike prototype. We are now scaling and building an Autocycle.
paul314
You can build (or at least sell) lithium batteries much more cheaply (and with longer lifetimes) if you limit the charge and discharge rates. And downrate all the associated power-handling electronics that deal with the battery. Depending on the kind of urban driving, a typical trip might not even touch the battery.
solas
Have them first 1) Explain the best possible regeneration they would give the 110mi battery-only design... and that better be the baseline 2) Explain how many stop-and-go's are in that 180mi cap-bat range, and what speed/deceleration amount between each stop 3) Show how that can possibly achieve a 63% gain in range from pure regeneration braking efficiency alone.
VincentWolf
Tesla is going to do the same thing with its 2023 Roadster.
VincentWolf
Tesla bought out Maxwell for the capability of combining a supercapacitor with it's battery tech for its sports cars like the Roadster and possibly even the upcoming Cyber Truck.
Username
Regardless of their technological claims, that bike is gorgeous.
promotousa
Cool Tech but I'm getting an Aprilia inspired vibe..
Aprilia Moto 6.5 from 1995
asninsp
It will never sell .. too f**king ugly
geemy
nope she super capacitor is .1 kwh it's not meant to take care of any trip. it's here to take care of all Regen with a better efficiency. almost 100% of the Regen generated by the motor goes into the super capacitot and back to the note whenever you accelerate. the super capacity can take care of almost all accelerations /decelerations, but the battery is still here to provide power to overcome the drag/friction. it's like a hybrid battery where the super capacity takes care of all the spikes and smoothen out the battery's job.
John_D
The idea is good, but i have always learned that the front brake is the most important brake for motorbikes. Only braking with the rear wil not give enough braking power in emergency situation. So it wil need a diskbreak in the frontwheel for emergency stops.
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