Kawasaki may not be leading the pack when it comes to electric motorcycle innovation, but recent plans at least indicate that the company won’t be the last major motorcycle manufacturer to embrace the future of electric transportation.
Despite Kawasaki not yet counting a single production electric motorcycle in its lineup, the company announced last month that it would go completely electric by 2035.
And progress appears to be coming quicker than some anticipated, as Kawasaki now says it will have three electric models out in 2022.
As Kawasaki’s CEO Hiroshi Ito explained to a crowd at the 2021 EICMA Milan Motorcycle Show:
“I would like to share a new commitment with you now: Next year in 2022, we will show a minimum of three electric vehicles globally. That is a promise.”
The company was expected to showcase its first electric motorcycle at EICMA this year, and I even showed up at the booth in Milan ready to see it.
But alas, the electric prototype that has been in the works in Kawasaki’s R&D department for several years did not make an appearance, nor did a production motorcycle based on that work.
Kawasaki may be moving in the right direction, but the company is going to have to play some catch up if it wants to lead in the space.
Other established motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson have had production electric motorcycles available for years.
And all-electric motorcycle companies such as Zero Motorcycles have been putting electric two-wheelers on the road for even longer, coming up on 15 years.
Kawasaki still has a bit of a leg up on the rest of the Big Four Japanese motorcycle manufactures, which in addition to Kawasaki include Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. Yamaha and Honda may have been playing with electric scooters for years now, but neither has made a commitment to bring a full-size electric motorcycle to market by as early as next year (or at all).
Suzuki has also gotten some saddle time with electric scooter projects, but doesn’t yet have a full-size electric motorcycle.
That means if Kawasaki can make good on its promise, the company could become the first Japanese motorcycle manufacturer to do more than talk about entering the electric motorcycle market.
As much as I’d love to see Kawasaki succeed, we’ve been burned before by lofty electric motorcycle deadlines that have come and gone, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
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