An electric motorbike concept has been revealed that’s claimed to offer more than 180 miles of range with a tiny 9kWh battery.
The NAWA Racer’s range of 20.6 miles per kWh (m/kWh) compares to the Hyundai Kona Electric’s 3.9mi/kWh, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range’s 3.7m/kWh and the 2020 Renault Zoe’s 4.7m/kWh, marking a more than fourfold improvement on the best BEVs.
NAWA claims its ‘hybrid battery’ system is claimed to offer 10 times more power and five times more energy than existing ultracapacitors - which NAWA itself developed. Unlike conventional lithium-ion electric drivetrains, NAWA’s carbon-based ultracapacitors can charge and discharge in seconds, making them vastly more capable of storing energy recovered from braking. They can do so “millions of times without degrading,” says the firm.
By taking this load away from the lithium-ion cells, the cells can be protected and their life extended significantly. It also means fewer cells are needed, reducing build cost (although that is currently more than offset by the cost of the ultracapacitors) and weight; a key factor for efficiency.
The system can be upscaled for use in cars, too. It is especially effective in urban scenarios, NAWA says, because there’s a lot of braking that can effectively keep putting juice back into the ultracapacitors. That’s why the bike offers more range in town – 186 miles – than it does on a ‘mixed’ cycle including highways, when range drops by half to 93 miles.
Its mere 9kWh battery pack recharges in just two minutes from a fast-charging outlet, or from zero to 80 per cent via a domestic plug socket in just an hour. Now we’re getting somewhere! The hubless rim motor produces 99bhp, sends the retro cafe racer-inspired to 62mph in “comfortably under three seconds” and will let the bike top 100mph. This performance is available regardless of the charge state of the lithium-ion cells.
Interestingly, the conventional battery can be removed and swapped for another, larger one for more power or highway range. It features a carbonfibre frame, composite panels and LED lights, but perhaps most intriguingly there’s a Race riding mode, which turns the ultracapacitors’ power delivery up to 11 and delivering a further burst of speed. There’s also an Eco mode for maximum energy recovery.
The bike will be displayed at CES 2020. It’s entirely likely NAWA will be hoping for a big slug of investment from a big automotive player. If their figures are accurate, we wouldn’t bet against it.