Kawasaki EV Prototype Revealed at Intermot

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Electric naked Z prototype to form basis for production model

Kawasaki presented an electric prototype at Intermot, providing a glimpse of what an eventual production model may look like. The EV prototype was part of a wide-ranging speech from Masaya Tsuruno, managing director of Kawasaki Motors Europe, discussing the company’s approach to reaching carbon neutrality.

Tsuruno did not provide much technical information about the EV prototype, though he did stress that the prototype will form the basis of a production machine. Kawasaki has already commited to presenting three electric vehicles this year; the first was the Elektrode youth balance bike, and the other two, which we were first to confirm via U.S. VIN filings, are expected to be a sportbike and a standard sharing the same 15 hp motor.

The EV prototype actually made its debut in August, with a demonstration at the Suzuki 8 Hour, alongside a Ninja-based hybrid electric prototype. Only the naked EV prototype was shown at Intermot, which is curious, but probably reflects how much closer it is to being production ready than the Ninja HEV.

The Intermot prototype is heavily based on the Z400, sharing similar styling and frame. Juxstaposing the EV with the Z, we can see just how similar the two motorcycles look – but also how different. The headlight, bodywork, tail and suspension are nearly identical, while the frame appears to have been modified to support the motor and presumably, the battery.

The “fuel tank” has a noticeably smaller hump than the Z400’s tank, but the ergonomics are virtually the same, with the seat, handlebars and footpegs appearing unchanged.

The brakes and wheels, however, appear to come straight off of a Z300 or Ninja 300, with the same IRC Road Winner stock tires. On close inspection, the tires appear to have a “S” speed rating, indicating a maximum speed of 112 mph, slower than the 400s’ Dunlop GPR-300’s 130 mph “H” rating.

Kawasaki previously announced a goal of releasing at least 10 electric or hybrid electric motorcycles by 2025, but Tsuruno says the company will continue to explore other options. He reiterated Kawasaki’s commitment to internal combustion engines, and confirmed that e-fuels and bio-fuels are also being considered in addition to hydrogen combustion.

Tsuruno also says Kawasaki Motors is actively involved in partnerships beyond two-wheels, with plans in place to work in the automotive space.

In the meantime, we will wait for Kawasaki to reveal its first production EVs, likely at next month’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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