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Report: Honda, Yamaha To Sell Electric Motorcycles

11 September 2008

The Nikkei reports that Honda Motor Co. and Yamaha Motor Co. will each launch battery-powered electric motorcycles. Yamaha is targeting a 2010 release date, Honda, a 2011 date.

Both firms hope to bring to market electric motorcycles that perform on a par with bikes with 50 cc engine displacements. The vehicles will be powered by high-performance lithium ion batteries.

Honda is developing a commercial motorcycle that can go up to 50 km (31 miles) on a single charge, according to the report. Honda is targeting Japan Post Service Co., which is considering a switch to electric motorcycles, as a potential customer. Honda also plans to develop low-cost, long-distance electric motorcycles for ordinary consumers.

Yamaha Motor plans to introduce an electric motorcycle that can travel more than 100 km (62 miles) on a single charge.

Since the two command a combined 30% share of the global motorcycle market, their moves could spark demand for environmentally friendly offerings at home and abroad.

September 11, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

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Excellent!
Lets see the metal and test it.
Electric bikes of all sizes (especially smaller ones) make a lot of sense as we are currently battery constrained.
+ they require less road and parking space.

It would be interesting if they built fairings to improve the performance, given they are power limited.

Better still would be to sponsor an e-bike (or e-motorbike) race or endurance event to see how far you could push the technology (with standard battery packs).

This is good news as these are the main players in the motorbike space so the e-motorbikes should be decent.

I've always seen this as a hole in the market. Glad to see that Yamaha and Honda are going to try to fill it.

Why such low performance targets? Sure the battery will weigh more, but there is no need for a transmission and electric motors can be very power dense. Perhaps the limitation is the battery, but lithium titanate also has high power density.

I could see an electric bike as being an ideal commuter bike: 30 mile range from ~6kw/h battery pack. Quick charge at work or wherever. Frame of the bike would be cheap as would the motor. Battery would cost $3k. So maybe they could sell the whole thing for $6k.

With their resources they can manufacture a powerful hub motor that can outperform any ICE motorcycle they choose to benchmark against.

There are a lot of options for batteries. High power for performance, high energy for range. With an imaginative frame design you can put in a pretty hefty battery pack if needs be.

You can throw a lot of the existing design book out the window. I hope we get some interesting/ funky designs.

They both have time to develop a small ZEBRA battery pack that can be carried inside to recharge. They will be cheaper and longer lived than LiIon batteries. ..HG..

@Andrew:

I agree with you but how long will it take to come up with an electric bike, cheap and appealing enough, to replace the existing ICE noise machines (scooters) that too many of the young kids use in our neighbourhood?

Alternatively, e-bikes may justify the ban of noisy ICE scooters and similar machines.

There are two ways to approach e-bikes - one is to build a bike as powerful as possible, the other is to build one which is much less powerful, but to see how far you can get with minimalistic design, for instance, freezing the power at 2KW and the storage at 1Kwh for a different class of bike (much in the way we have < 50cc mopeds).

Give the lower power versions extra tax breaks or whatever.

Maybe have 3 classes:
ebikes < 300 watts power
escooters < 2KW
emotorbikes >= 2KW

Anyone over 12 might be allowed an ebike
Anyone over 16 might be allowed a scooter
Anyone over 18 can have a emotorbike.

To my mind, there is something elegant about commuting as fast as possible, with as little power as possible.

"To an optimist, the glass is 1/2 full,
to a pessimist, the glass is 1/2 empty,
To an Engineer, the glass is twice as large as it needs be"

- JM

And then there is the electric KillaCycle with peak performance of 500 hp or 373k watt. Great to see some established motorbike manufacturers to launch EV motorbikes but it would also be nice to see them launch some more powerful EV bikes than just some that perform on a par with bikes with 50 cc engine displacements. I am not thinking of like the KillaCycle but why not a 30k watt EV bike?

An idea to make EV bikes more attractive and safe would be to give them a sound system so that they sound good like a Harley-Davidson. I am not kidding. We do it with digital cameras that all sound like an old fashioned camera. I read Fisker’s Karma has a sound system and that this is the little secret that it also sounds really good when you drive it.

To various, re why such low performance: Electric vehicles still have a massive trade-off between performance and range. (The trade-off is there with a gasoline vehicle, also, but you just fill up the tank ...) The Killacycle might have 500 hp, but only goes a quarter mile on a charge. The 50cc mini-scooters are perfect applications for electric power: Low power demand, not demanding on the technology, and in Asia, two-wheelers in this size class are sold in ENORMOUS numbers.

HarveyD and Henrik illustrate a big problem. Noise pollution is an issue, but a vehicle that is too quiet is a different issue.

By the way, ICE-powered scooters (and other vehicles) that meet current regulations are NOT noisy, but are often modified by owners who find them too quiet (and older models don't meet current standards and never did).

@ Andrew, electric two-wheelers are a LONG way from matching the performance of any but the smallest gasoline-powered models IF range is taken into account. You can not match the performance of a Yamaha R1 with an electric powertrain, for example, if you want range of more than a few kilometres.

For the Asian market, a small electric scooter will likely sell in huge numbers ... and they are becoming more popular here, and should be even more so. An electric scooter is pretty much the most environmentally-friendly and congestion-relieving vehicle you can have.

The Vectrix e-scooter manages up to a 62 mile range on a 3.75 kWh NiMH battery pack, that's at least 16.5 miles per kWh, if they're using all the battery. Switch it to lithium-ion and it's a 120 mile range.

Top speed of the Vectrix is e-limited to 100 km/h, but it has fast acceleration (0-50 mph in 6.8 seconds).

Then back them up with loads of pre-pay charging stations - at every parking spot - anywhere.

20 Cents gets 1 Kwh - this allows a small mark up for the provider. You could even push it to 50 cents / KwH - no-one is forcing you to use them.

The trick with these is that the power requirements are so low that it doesn't matter where it comes from, + you can charge during the day with a clear conscience, which might not be the case with a Volt.

This a great news to many parts of the world where there are serious pollution from small motorbikes. People there have to use handkerchief to cover their face to avoid air-borne pollution on the road. These small motorbikes are very cheap and cannot be cost-effectively produced in the high emission standard of automobiles, but can be cost-effectively electrified in order to produce zero pollution.

Vectrix is already doing this.

62 mph (100 kph)
40 miles to 50 miles per charge
3 hours to recharge
about $8,900

Here is a YouTube video of one of them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEk2J85PXNg

Vectrix has been around for quite a while but they are expensive. Maybe mass production companies like these can make it more affordable. I think there is a price point where these will take off.

Hey you can already buy an Zero motorcycles electric dirt bike that will dust the Honda or Yamaha gas equivalent. $7500 and they say they are coming out with a street and ds electric motorcycle models. http://www.zeromotorcycles.com

Vectrix may be expensive, but they are real and they are a quality machine. They dropped the price $3k already and I imagine they will continue to drop it as time goes on.

They are on sale here in Seattle and they cannot be kept in stock. Wait time is months.

A 50cc equivalent electric scooter that is affordable would be a game changer in many developing countries, especially SE Asia which is choked with fumes. I hope they keep them cheap.

Also, regarding the comments about them being too quiet. Users will adjust and learn to use horns as a signal more than they do in the US or Europe.

Another reason for the middling range and performance?

The aerodynamics of a bike are just terrible. My (fuel injected, catalyzed exhaust) bike puts about 65hp to the rear wheel and is drag-limited to about 115mph.

At 75mph, pulling in the clutch causes your speed to drop very quickly. A car following behind doing the same would have to get on the brakes to avoid running into the back of me. I haven't done any coastdown tests to calculate the actual drag, but it's very bad, and my bike certainly isn't atypical in that respect.

We can't pack enough energy onto an e-bike to have gas-equivalent performance (acceleration+speed+range) yet. I expect that will change, but they won't be much better on a kWh/mile basis than a well-optimized lightweight car without radical streamlining...

I'll tip in here.

Emissions performance of small engine is not a question of capability, it is a question politics and laziness.

A real 50cc equivilent must have 4 kWs rated not peak at the rear axle (hub motor) and 4kwhs of battery, This will povide "real world" performance of a best in class 50cc (what is needed to really move around urban and outer urbn roads - less is not accepatable for the price/range premium.

It will also deliver a range of 55 to 60 km range @ 80kph real range.

BTW the Vextrix at 90kmh has a range of about 50km or less).

Anything esle is not worth buying IMHO,

Mike

Design around the needs of the postal service will fast track refinement.
The applicaion demands reliability, stop start with much idle low emissions while continious throttle, high performance or mileage are not such an issue.
This will compliment develoment and be economical . It should also meet with the approval of the users and public as a little ambassador for this market.
Honda and Yamaha are on a winner for sure.

@Mike,
I disagree. If you write a general purpose specification, you end up with a bike that is impossible with current technology.
You have to limit the range, and perhaps the power to get a realistic bike.

For urban use, you do not need 55km @ 80kph, you probably need 25 km @ 60 kph with a 70 kph max.

You are competing with $2K ICE bikes so you have to keep the cost down.

These should be small and cheap - in many cases they will be used in conjunction with other vehicles (such as an ICE 4 car or SUV), so they can be optimized for certain jobs, such as an 10 Km spin into work (and back).

If you could charge it in work, so much the better.

This is not for the road trip of a lifetime, it is for urban commuting, pure and simple.

justinvp,

You can't use the horn for "signalling" in the Seattle area. It is a ticketable offense (non-moving violation) if you use a vehicular horn and it is not an "emergency".

Greenplease
30 mile range with 6 kwh? You are an electron guzzler.

Mike
Electric motors have very diferent power and torque curves than ICEs. With 1 kw electric and a good design you can match a standard 50 cc scooter (not the high performance ones).Range is another thing.

People,

I'm industry. I know a little about this. One question for you all?

how many Teslas have the pres sold in California compared to all the G wizzes sold in London (Super EV friendly)?

If it don't do the job period you don't have a business.

If you have a product that does met expectation and it costs you might have a business (tesla).

Seen it many times.

Ciao,

Mike

using used parts, and with an electric source of up to three hundred and twenty volts not from a battery, how much would it cost to build an electric motorcycle?

Honda and Yamaha are aiming at the Japanese domestic market where most of their "motorbike" sales are actually scooters and most are small, light, and cheap (hence the 50cc target). These are also around the $1700-2200 17-22万円 mark. It is one thing for a company like Vectrix to do it for $6000 but then it is completely different for Honda/Yamaha to do it for $2000. It they can produce an electric scooter for the same price as their current 50cc models then that will be a break through.

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