Honda is following its peers and rivals into the electric motorcycle segment. It will release four battery-powered bikes in the United States by 2025, but it’s not giving up on gasoline-powered drivetrains yet and pledged to continue developing them in the coming years.
The firm’s motorcycle-building division is massive: Its customers include commuters, enthusiasts, and racers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so Honda is exploring several technologies as it maps out its future range. On the electric side of the portfolio, the company will release over 10 battery-powered models globally by 2025 and plans to sell 3.5 million units annually (about 15% of its total sales) by 2030.
Not all of these models will reach American showrooms; some are so-called “commuter EVs” developed for markets where motorcycles are often used as a primary form of transportation. The ones we’ll get are labeled “FUN EVs” because they’re built around a platform called FUN that’s currently under development. We’ll see three models that haven’t been detailed yet and a fourth developed for young riders.
Honda is taking a modular approach to designing these EVs, and it plans to power them with a solid-state battery pack that it’s developing in-house. In some Asian markets, it’s investing in battery-swapping and -sharing centers to ensure riders don’t need to wait for their bike to charge. Honda operates a battery-sharing service in Bali, Indonesia, and plans to launch one aimed at rickshaw drivers in India in late 2022. (Magna just made the same moves in India.)
Gasoline-burning Honda motorcycles will live on in the foreseeable future. The company notes that electric motorcycles are heavier and more expensive than their gasoline-powered counterparts, so they don’t suit every market’s needs, and that the take rate largely depends on government regulations, tax incentives, and the charging infrastructure in a given country. With that in mind, Honda plans to develop more efficient gasoline-powered engines, including some that can run on a blend of gasoline and ethanol. It already sells flex-fuel motorcycles in Brazil, and it will bring at least one model to India in 2023. It doesn’t sound like the American market will get them, though.