It was as recently as April last year that Honda’s plan for electrifying its motorcycle range extended only as far as introducing four electric motorcycles by 2024. Now the company has upped the ante with intentions to launch 10 or more battery-powered models by 2025 and to sell a million of them each year by 2027 as it outlines its near-term electric strategy.
And that’s just the start. Earlier this year Honda’s environmental briefing suggested the company would ensure 15% of its motorcycle production would be electric by 2030. Now it’s doubled down on that commitment, saying that the 15% target remains and will be equivalent to 3.5 million electric bikes per year. It’s all part of a plan to ensure all Honda’s products and corporate activities are carbon-neutral by 2050, a date that’s also previously been pencilled in as a deadline for the end of all fatalities involving Honda cars and motorcycles.
Honda isn’t giving away too much about its planned electric bikes, but silhouetted images reveal 11 models representing its ‘global electric lineup’ in 2025 show the emphasis is on scooters. The pictures show seven small step-thru machines, an electric minibike, a large-capacity electric maxi-scooter and just two full-on motorcycles. From their shape and stance, one is a CB650R-style machine in the ‘neo-retro’ roadster class, the other a lower-slung, cruiser-style bike along the lines of the Rebel. Take that picture with a pinch of salt as the silhouettes are unlikely to be genuine representations of the real electric bikes in the plan, although they are a good indicator to the way Honda is thinking.
Fleshing out the ideas, Honda says that it will introduce two ‘commuter EV models’ between 2024 and 2025 across Asia, Europe and Japan. The company will also launch five ‘compact and affordable’ electric mopeds or electric bicycles in the same regions between now and 2024, and three ‘large-size FUN EV models’ in Japan, the US and Europe between 2024 and 2025.
Those ‘FUN EV’ – putting FUN in capitals somehow suggests the enjoyment will be enforced – are clearly the most interesting bikes to most of us: the cruiser-style machine, the neo-retro roadster and the maxi-scooter in the teaser image. Intriguingly, we discovered Honda patents for a retro-style electric bike based on the CB125R back in 2020, so that project could be connected to the plans.
All three will be made on the same ‘FUN EV’ platform, in much the same way that the NC750 platform at the moment forms the basis of a wide array of bikes in a variety of different styles. A ‘Kids Fun EV’ model will come at the same time, represented by the minibike in the silhouette image.
Interestingly, Honda intends to use a solid-state battery in its electric motorcycle models although that technology isn’t yet production-ready – it’s due to start testing in 2024 and reach production in the second half of this decade – so it would be a surprise to see it appear in the first batch of machines. Solid-state batteries promise to be lighter, smaller, safer, more energy-dense and faster-charging that current technologies.
Honda is also a leading proponent of the idea of standardised swappable batteries, already using the Honda Mobile Power Pack (MPP) in its PCX Electric scooter and the Japanese-market Gyro-e and Benly-e models. All four Japanese manufacturers have already agreed specifications for a standardised battery that will be able to be used across at least some of their electric models in the future, and Honda is also a founder member of the European consortium hammering out a similar standard for use over here. Many of the smaller, moped-style electric bikes in Honda’s plan are likely to use the MPP or a descendant of that technology.
The implication of Honda’s electric plans is that we’re likely to see the first models appearing in showrooms as soon as 2023, probably at the lower end of the range although we wouldn’t be surprised if concept or pre-production versions of the larger, more exciting EVs get shown well in advance of their planned 2024-25 introduction to hammer home Honda’s ambitions.