How ION Energy is Powering 8000 Battery-assisted Bicycles in Europe
The city councils in Europe wish to deploy battery-assisted bicycles all throughout major European economies. The plan is to have bicycles docked in so that anyone can walk up to these bikes and use them for a ride. They also want the batteries used inside these bicycles to double up as portable power banks which essentially means that the battery can be used for bike assistance and also as a power bank for users to charge their phones.
In Europe, consumer awareness and interest in buying an e-bike has been boosted through a straight forward financial incentive, offered nationally, or by local or regional authorities. In the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria, e-bikes now account for 30% of all bicycles sold annually; and for 10-20% of all sales in Italy, France, Sweden, and Germany. In Sweden, in the last year alone, e-bike sales increased by 53% (from 67,500 to 103,000), and in France, their growth was 90% (from 134,000 to 255,000). Across Europe, sales of e-bikes are far higher than those of any other electric vehicle, including all hybrid and all-electric cars and vans combined. [Source]
About the Customer
A leading outdoor advertising company worldwide, with a presence of over 75 countries and 4,000+ cities. Based in France, this company has been continuously innovating and improving their street furniture offerings for more than 50 years. They ventured into the rental self-service bicycle space in Europe with the aim to promote multi-mode mobility and enable more open, connected and sustainable cities.
About the Partner
Our partner is a European battery pack manufacturer that manages the design, assembly, and distribution of batteries and energy storage systems. Based out of France, the company was founded in 2019 with the objective of developing battery solutions and mobile energy storage products based on lithium-ion batteries.
The electric bicycles would soon be introduced in every major European city and that meant about 20,000 bicycles would be deployed in the first year and 50,000-100,000 every year going forward.
The Customer's 3 Biggest Challenges
> Powerful yet Compact Battery Pack: To build a multi-purpose battery pack, designing a Battery Management System (BMS) that fit inside the pack that was compact, portable and would slide into the bicycle, was one of the major technical challenges. The power requirements for the BMS were also quite high for the compact size – 60W continuous for charging and 300W continuous for discharging.
> Doubling up as a fast-charging Power Bank: One of the most interesting requirements of the project was to enable the battery to be used as a personal power bank for charging daily used electronics. In a typical power bank, there are different charging and discharging ports. What made this power bank even more special was its unique ability to charge and discharge through the same port. This meant that the BMS had to be smart to identify when it should charge or discharge the battery.
> Sophisticated Yet Inexpensive Battery Technology: Since the battery pack was very small and compact, money that the company would want to spend on the electronics of that battery pack automatically has to be low. Depending on the application that the battery pack is being designed for, the cost differs accordingly. For instance, if the battery pack cells itself cost just $100, then the customer would not want to spend $100 more on the electronics. Hence we had to develop complex and sophisticated battery technology at a reduced cost.
Read on to know more about how we’ve helped the customer overcome these challenges.