Hot on the heels of the announcement of its first electric street bikes, Kawasaki has taken another big step towards a carbon neutral future by revealing details about its first hybrid motorcycle. Unlike the Ninja e-1 and Z e-1, however, the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 7 Hybrid aims to be more than an urban commuter or entry-level motorcycle.
Kawasaki made a big splash at EICMA last fall, announcing, among other green initiatives, an upcoming hybrid motorcycle. Whether Kawasaki will reach its target of a 2024 launch for a Ninja HEV remains to be seen, but when it does arrive, we have to remember it’s not the first mass produced hybrid two-wheeler. No, that honor actually belongs to the Honda PCX Hybrid scooter, introduced in 2018 for Asian markets.
At the beginning of this month, Kawasaki Heavy Industries officially spun off its motorcycle and engine business into a separate company. The move was supposed to give the newly formed Kawasaki Motors, Ltd., greater autonomy and flexibility in decision making. Well, it didn’t take long to demonstrate those benefits, as Kawasaki Motors held a presentation on the company’s future, including an ambitious plan to become carbon neutral, with a slate of new electric, hybrid and even hydrogen-powered models in the works.
We’ve known for some time that Kawasaki is working on a hybrid motorcycle, but a recently published patent suggests it may be combined another Kawasaki technology, a supercharger. More specifically, the patent describes an electrically-powered supercharger, with a motor capable of driving both the motorcycle and the supercharger’s impeller.
Honda has updated its lineup of PCX scooters with new frames, new engines and traction control. For the Japanese market, Honda will include a 124cc version (simply called the “PCX”) while the PCX 150 sees a displacement increase to 157cc to become the PCX 160. Honda will also offer the PCX e:HEV hybrid electric version which combines the 124cc engine with an electric motor in Japan.
Kawasaki typically tries to showcase some of the project it works on at motorcycle shows like EICMA. Last year, for example, Kawasaki presented an electric motorcycle concept and provided a look at its development. Obviously, there are no motorcycle shows this year due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped Kawasaki from showcasing some of its ongoing projects, providing a peek at its hybrid motorcycle and artificial intelligence projects.
We’ve been waiting for some time now for electric motorcycles to take the next big leap towards the mainstream. Thanks to the longstanding efforts of manufacturers like Zero, and Harley-Davidson‘s new push toward electrification led by the LiveWire, we’re getting closer to seeing that happen. Kawasaki, meanwhile, may be looking in a different direction, having filed a patent application for a hybrid motorcycle.
We’ve seen some pretty crazy looking patents, but this one probably tops them all. Ford has filed a patent for a car with a motorcycle built into it that can be deployed as a separate vehicle. It’s kind of like the Batpod that shoots out of the Batmobile in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, but with a Ford C-Max.