The Tuning Fork Company plans to release three or four electric motorcycles, including business-use models, by the mid-2010s. By 2020, Yamaha aims to become the worldwide market leader in the electric motorcycle segment. Yamaha’s plans begin with the new EC-03 electric scooter, set to launch in Tokyo in Sept. 1 before expanding across Japan Oct. 1.
Yamaha first unveiled an electric prototype at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show with the FROG. The company’s first production electric scooters arrived in 2002 with the Yamaha Passol. That was followed in 2005 with the Passol-L and the EC-02 before being the electric scooter lineup was discontinued in 2006. The EC-03 will spearhead Yamaha’s latest effort at establishing a hold of the electric motorcycle market.
By 2011, Yamaha intends to introduce electric models to Europe and Taiwan. Yamaha has also targeted the Chinese market where the current market for electric bicycles is estimated at 20 million units. Yamaha sees a potentially larger market for electric motorcycles in China.
The new EC-03 will compete in the 50cc scooter market. Powered by a 50V lithium-ion battery manufactured by Sanyo, the EC-03 runs on the Yamaha Integrated Power Unit (YIPU. The YIPU is designed to be compact, with a brushless DC motor, control unit, planetary gear transmission and drum brake all integrated into the 12-inch rear wheel.
According to Yamaha, the YIPU produces 1.9hp and has a maximum torque output of 7.1 ft-lb. Yamaha also claims a range of 26.7 miles at a speed of 18.6 mph on a windless flat road at a temperature of 77 degrees F while carrying a 121 pound rider. The battery can be charged by plugging the bike into a regular power outlet, with a full charge taking about six hours. Based on the average rate provided by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Yamaha estimates the cost of a single full charge to be 18 yen (US$0.20).
The EC-03 uses an aluminum-alloy frame. At 61.6 inches in length and 23.6 inches wide, Yamaha sees customers fitting the EC-03 into standard elevators to store the scooter in their apartments. According to Yamaha, the EC-03 weighs 123.4 lb., about 30% lighter than the average 50cc gas-powered scooter.
Yamaha plans to sell 1,000 units in Japan, with advanced orders in Tokyo accepted July 15.
Based on Yamaha’s figures, the company appears to hold an advantage over Honda which had announced its own electric scooter, the EV-neo in April. The EC-03 will be marketed for regular consumers while the EV-neo is intended for business use. The EC-03 will also be available months before the EV-neo which is slated to begin lease sales in December.
German automaker Daimler also appears to be getting into the electric scooter market with a Smart scooter prototype expected to be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show.