Kawasaki revealed a few of its upcoming EV motorcycles at EICMA 2022 along with the company’s plans for the future of its combustion-powered motorcycles. While Kawasaki plans to release a fully-electric sport bike in Europe by 2023, which will probably be a part of the Kawasaki Ninja lineup, the Japanese bike maker is casting a wide net when it comes to propulsion methods.
According to Kawasaki, its combustion engines are not going away entirely, but will live on and even thrive, in a way, thanks to hybrid EV drivetrains and so-called “future fuels.” Kawasaki is developing a hybrid electric prototype that can seamlessly switch between combustion-powered and electric propulsion. And the bike company says this HEV model could make it to production as early as 2024.
On top of its hybrid bike, Kawasaki is also tinkering with an engine design that could yield a PHEV version of the Kawasaki Ninja H2, which is bonkers — for lack of a better term — but in a good way. Just imagine a supercharged 998cc motorcycle possibly making over 200 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque that’s fueled by by clean-burning hydrogen. That’s a mad science experiment if I ever saw one, but that’s all it is for now because the company is specifically referring to the engine that could one day go into a Hydro H2 as “experimental.”
Between its plans to make hybrid EV bikes and maybe even a PHEV, Kawasaki says it’s going to introduce 30 models that still rely on internal combustion in the next two years. The company insists that abandoning the advancements ICE gained in the last few years is not really the way forward. That isn’t to say Kawasaki will double down on inefficient gas-guzzling models; if it did, then it’d be forced out of certain markets by strict regulations. But Kawasaki is taking a different approach to carbon neutrality than rival Japanese bike makers such as Honda, which is already talking up its EV efforts.
Kawasaki is actually part of the consortium of Japanese companies that have agreed to standardize batteries used by upcoming EV motorcycles. Honda seems to have gotten the better end of the deal there, since the consortium decided that its Mobile Power Pack :e batteries will power upcoming EV models from Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and, of course, Honda.
Kawasaki hasn’t confirmed if the Ninja EV will use Honda batteries; all we know right now is that it’ll have dual batteries with a capacity of 3kWh in total. The EV Ninja will conform to European A1 license regulations, so it’ll likely be comparable to a 125cc motorcycle in performance.
That’s a good thing since EVs make excellent city bikes or commuters mostly used for short rides. I wanted to be critical of Kawasaki for stubbornly going on with combustion bikes, but if it can cover between 125 and nearly 1,000ccs with its HEV and PHEV bikes, then I’m all in for Kawasaki going green.