Ready for an electric Kawasaki Ninja? It could be here sooner than you think. Kawasaki has just announced that it is actively working on an electric motorcycle platform and even showed off a prototype in action.
The announcement comes via a new video released by Kawasaki.
It features an interview with Yoshimoto Matsuda, Kawasaki R&D’s senior manager of the Innovation Department.
In the video, Matsuda discusses the work being done on a Kawasaki electric motorcycle.
The interview is overlaid with shots of a Kawasaki electric motorcycle making fast passes on a track with the high-pitched whine of an electric motorcycle in the background.
Kawasaki electric motorcycle in the works
As it turns out, work on a Kawasaki electric motorcycle isn’t a recent development. They’ve apparently been at this for some time now.
As Matsuda explains:
The electric motorcycle you see here features one of the next generation power units that we have been working on since the early 2000s. Our electric motorcycles will be fun to control, exciting, and a reflection of Kawasaki’s passion.
Which would make sense, as we’ve recently spied some Kawasaki patents that reflect the company’s work toward an electric motorcycle. The patents suggest that a future Kawasaki electric motorcycle may feature swappable batteries. We’ve seen that concept take off with huge success in smaller electric scooters, but less so in full-size electric motorcycles.
Matsuda didn’t confirm specifics about the batteries, but says that Kawasaki has been hard at work developing new technologies and securing patents.
We have been thoroughly studying and patenting features relating to packaging and chassis geometry, to transmissions and thumb brake activated regenerative braking systems.
An lo and behold, there it is: A thumb-activated regenerative braking lever. It’s super weird and I hope it never sees the light of day, but there it is.
Interestingly, earlier this year Kawasaki joined forces with Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki to create a consortium to develop a single battery standard for electric motorcycles. Matsuda didn’t elaborate on how that consortium might affect Kawasaki’s current work, or if a future electric Kawasaki Ninja could share batteries with other brands.
A sharp eye might catch sight of the CHAdeMO charging connector on the prototype in the video. It’s too soon to say what type of connector an electric Kawasaki Ninja might sport, but the CHAdeMO makes sense in Japan, where that charging standard is popular.
If you’re wondering when a Kawasaki electric motorcycle will be available at a dealer near you, Matsuda has an answer, though not a very clear one.
Elements from this concept model will evolve and appear on next-generation motorcycles we are working on. You can look forward to seeing them in the near future. These motorcycles will definitely make you smile.
This was obviously inevitable. It’s about time the Big Four motorcycle manufacturers in Japan started putting some serious progress out there.
You better believe they’ve all been playing around with electric propulsion behind closed doors, and I’m sure their R&D departments are pretty excited by the possibilities.
But it’s the businessmen in boardrooms that make the “go” or “no-go” decisions, not the engineers. And it’s still a hard sell for these companies to invest in electric motorcycles without an immediate and clear path to profitability.
This progress seems quite promising, though, and the fact that Kawasaki gave the green light to start going public with the brand’s progress is a good sign that we’ll have a Kawasaki electric motorcycle coming sooner rather than later.
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