Two weeks ago, Honda announced its plans for electric two- and three-wheelers, revealing that it would have 10 models by 2025 (perhaps a few more), with a particular focus on pedal-assist bikes and mopeds. Today Honda already has pilot experiences of electric motorcycles with the postal companies of Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam.
For private customers, the first model will arrive in 2024 and has all the earmarks of being an urban scooter, and will be accompanied by another model with a similar purpose. On the other hand, four playful models were announced, three will be large motorcycles (equivalent to more than 125 cc) and there will also be a children’s model to initiate the new generations on two wheels. The latter will not be matriculable.
The bulk of the offer, five models between 2022 and 2024, will be in Asia (mainly China and Japan), as well as Europe. It will be moped-type vehicles and pedal-assisted bicycles as they are the most demanded in Asia. Considering that Honda sells 30 million vehicles a year of any kind (including lawnmowers or jet skis, the Power Products), any electrification is welcome.
7% of the global two-wheeler market is motorcycles (anything above a moped), with 40% being mopeds and 53% pedal-assist bicycles. This gives us an idea of why Honda has the priorities that it does. And they have a special eye on India since in 2021 there was an explosion of sales, more than 300,000 units, and in 2022 the average number of units may be exceeded.
In all the segments that cannot be electrified immediately, they only have two resources left, to increase the efficiency of the engines – they are already very good in this chapter – and to design them to work with alternative fuels, as is already happening in Brazil. As for its electric equivalents, battery swapping is successful in select places in Asia, and Honda has or will have involvement in this business in Indonesia, India, and Japan.
Honda is currently the largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines in the world, so its role in decarbonization comes with a lot of responsibility. It will still take a few years for the entire motorcycle catalog to be 100% electric, but starting somewhere, they prefer to start where the accounts are clearer in terms of volume.