Two months ago, we got a cheeky first glimpse of Kawasaki’s new prototype electric motorcycle at an event in Japan that gets a massive number of eyeballs – the iconic Suzuka 8-Hour world endurance race.
Cheeky in the sense that Suzuka’s owned by arch-rival, Honda, but with no security guards to tackle them to the ground the prototype EV and a hybrid Kawasaki were free to roam on the track for a few minutes before being whisked away. But not before millions of people got a glimpse of Kawasaki’s non-internal combustion future.
The EV has now resurfaced at the Intermot motorcycle show in Germany, taking pride of place alongside the Managing Director of Kawasaki Motors Europe, Mr Masaya Tsuruno, while he delivered a wide-ranging speech.
Tsuruno reinforced Kawasaki’s commitment to unveil at least three electric vehicles globally by 2022, and he added the prototype would make the transition into a production bike – and if looks are any indication that won’t be very far off.
Kawasaki has previously pledged, in a major strategic blueprint, to release 10 electric or hybrid models by 2025. That same document also outlined a plan for complete carbon-neutral electrification by 2035.
An overlay of images reveals the Suzuka and Intermot EV prototypes are identical, in what can best be described as a ‘125cc equivalent’ in terms of size.
The whole battery pack looks extremely compact, which could mean Kawasaki – which is part of a Japanese consortium to standardise swappable batteries for electric motorcycle – is placing more of an emphasis on cassette-type removable battery and connector packs rather than bulky, fixed batteries.
For fleet vehicles it’s a no-brainer, and in the case of the Kawasaki EV it’s a tiny naked so a light and lean battery makes complete engineering sense – especially on the basis that it’s a commuter and will probably have decent regenerative braking powers anyway.
Until we see the specs it’s pure speculation – but we’re tipping a full-blown unveil at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in November, or perhaps the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in March 2023.
In his speech, Tsuruno-san also underlined Kawasaki’s continuing commitment to internal combustion engines, with biofuel and hydrogen options also being considered.
And we’d certainly like to see that Suzuka hybrid again, which appeared to be decked out in predominantly Z400/Ninja running gear.
It’s been a busy period in the electric space, with Triumph recently unveiling its TE-1 streetfighter prototype, which it says isn’t slated for production just yet (more’s the pity as it looks ready to go), while during a press briefing in Japan Honda stated that it’ll have 10 electric motorcycles on sale by 2025. The company says that 15 percent of its global sales by 2030 will be electric.
Mark ‘Mav’ Fattore has been hanging around the motorcycle scene longer than he can remember, but still struggles to contain his two-wheel exuberance. He also eats like a bull-at-a-gate, which is why he once swallowed the prong off a plastic fork stuffing down Chinese takeaway during a frenetic magazine deadline. The digital space is a safer haven, and he’ll turn his writing hand to anything.