Swatch diversifies into electric vehicle batteries

6th January, 2017 in Electric bike news

Belenos Clean Power, a research subsidiary of the Swatch Group, is working on a new type of battery, initially intended to clean up the automotive industry but with further ambitions in the electric bike, drone and scooter markets.

“Diesel is no longer an alternative. The car industry needs electro-mobility more than ever.” Swatch CEO, Nicholas Hayek, has said, illustrating his vision with the emissions crisis blighting VW in recent times.

A Swatch Group statement reports that the new battery has been developed to be ‘lighter, safer and more powerful’ and is based on a ‘particular compound of valadium rather than lithium, which is becoming more and more expensive.’

The Group say the compound is available in large quantities and can be recycled without difficulty, citing 30% greater range than a conventional battery model as well as charging twice as fast. The Swiss battery also has the protection of 20 patents.

Heralding the battery as the ‘combustion engine of the 21st century’, Swatch is currently working with Chinese car manufacturer, Geely, whose ambitions lie in fitting 90% of its models with an electric motor by 2020. The company say production of the battery could start this year, but the ‘next steps will depend on the results achieved’ with both parties wanting ‘concrete experiences’ while Swatch have been working with Geely throughout the latter part of 2016 to adapt the ‘battery architecture’ for its first intended use ahead of starting full production.

Referencing the cooperation between the two companies, Hayek said: “We’re giving Geely the possibility to use our revolutionary battery system. This is a first breakthrough for our invention and shows the huge interest industrial firms take in it.”

Swatch also point to support from the Chinese government in the form of subsidies and tax breaks for emission-free vehicles, in a bid to both reduce smog in Chinese cities and grow a ‘globally competitive car industry’ exporting electric cars. “By 2020, there will be millions of electric cars on China’s roads,” says Hayek.

No further information has been forthcoming from Belenos in terms of timing for the battery’s application in the e-bike market. A statement says that: “The Swatch Group will probably enter into selected partnerships in each of these areas [drones, e-bikes and scooters]”.

The Zhejiang Geely Holding also took over the insolvent London Taxi Company in 2013 and has just acquired $400 million to build a new factory in which an electric version of the classic London taxi cab is to be produced.