A big announcement from Big Red about electric motorcycles.
You can make a pretty strong argument that Honda has made more than its fair share of motorcycling breakthroughs. Its Super Cub is the bestselling motor vehicle in the world. The CB750K0 introduced an entirely new motorcycle architecture, the transverse inline four-cylinder, to the mass market, where the layout dominated the streetbike scene for generations. The Gold Wing defined the modern touring bike. The three-wheeled ATC90 gave birth to the ATV as we know it today. Oval pistons, V-4 engines—the list goes on. But there’s been one glaring absence: electric bikes.
That’s changed. In a worldwide press conference, on September 12 and 13 of 2022 (depending on which side of the international date line you ride), Honda announced its path forward toward producing electric motorcycles.
Honda’s Goal: Carbon Neutral by 2050!*
The statement was actually much larger, introducing details of Honda’s plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This involves a variety of factors, including motorcycles which run on “carbon-neutral” fuels, which can be read as gasoline/ethanol blends or even straight ethanol. But electric bikes will play a major role.
Honda already builds flex-fuel bikes for the Brazilian market at its factory in Amazonas. In 2023 the company will introduce flex-fuel models in India as well.
Many Americans may think of Honda as primarily a car company, but in terms of worldwide sales (and profitability), its motorcycle division is king. To that end, Honda states that it plans to launch 10 or more models in its global electric motorcycle lineup by 2025. Some are already out there; the Honda e: Business Bike series are being used by the Japan Post today, and the postal system in Vietnam has also started using them for mail delivery.
For personal use, Honda plans to introduce two commuter EV models between 2024 and 2025 in Asia, Europe, and Japan. China is by far the world’s largest market for electric bikes, and Honda promises to announce five models there between now and 2024.
EB, EM, and EV
Honda divides its electric motorcycle efforts into three categories: Electric Bicycles (EB) which have a top speed of 25 kph or less (about 15 mph), Electric Mopeds (EM; 25–50 kph), and Electric Vehicles (EV; 50 kph and faster). It’s clear that many of the vehicles aimed at the Asian markets will be, fundamentally, electric scooters designed for commuters.
What about the US? Honda pledged to introduce four models here by 2024-2025, three large “Fun” EV models and one EV model for kids. Again, reading between the lines, that probably means an electric off-road bike equivalent to the current CRF50F or CRF110F. It is unclear if that is a different model than the Greenger-built CRF-E2 that’s currently available.
Part of Honda’s EV planning hinges on swappable batteries and battery-sharing services. It is currently experimenting with programs like this in India and Indonesia. The big four Japanese manufacturers, along with European consortiums, have the goal of standardizing battery size. Think about swapping out your barbecue’s empty propane tank for a full one, and you’re probably in the ballpark here. Notably absent in Honda’s presser was any mention of hybrid or fuel-cell bikes.
The Electric Future
Our takeaway from it all? Yes, you will be seeing electric Hondas here soon. No, in the next couple of years they probably won’t be “full sized” motorcycles like the LiveWire or Zero’s SR/S or DSR/X or SR, at least not at first. And there’s no way Honda is getting out of the motorcycle market; that theory ignores how massive its two-wheel footprint is in the rest of the world. And don’t forget for a second that Honda is still the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world by a very, very wide margin.
* Editor’s Notes: Although we strongly disagree with electric vehicles, we report the facts and updates as news. This view we have, may change in the future when the lies about electric vehicles stop, the desired control to imprison humanity “by switching the power off” is exposed, and when fossil fuel is not used to produce electric vehicles.