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Kawasaki debuts prototype electric motorcycle

Kawasaki's electric bike was on display at the Intermot Motorcycle Fair.

Supploed

Kawasaki’s electric bike was on display at the Intermot Motorcycle Fair.

Kawasaki has revealed its latest electric prototype at the Intermot Motorcycle Fair in Cologne, Germany, and it looks closer to production than ever.

The bike was shown off by Kawasaki Motors Europe managing director, Masaya Tsurono, who also talked about the company’s plans for the future, which include both hybrid and electric vehicles. This one will “form the basis of an actual future production machine.”

He didn’t discuss anything about the bike itself, but it looks very much like an electrified Z. Interestingly there’s a chain drive, which could be a way for Kawasaki to generate extra torque at the rear wheel without increasing the size or output of the motor.

The bike being unveiled with Kawasaki Motors Europe managing director, Masaya Tsurono.

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The bike being unveiled with Kawasaki Motors Europe managing director, Masaya Tsurono.

The press release didn’t shed any more light on the project either, aside from the fact that both electric and biofuels were being considered in addition to hydrogen power, which Kawasaki is working on alongside the likes of Toyota.

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Kawasaki had previously pledged to introduce ten electrified motorcycles by 2025, and with a total of zero on the market as 2022 nears its end, the next couple of years should be quite busy for the Japanese manufacturer.

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It did show off the prototype here along with a fully faired hybrid bike at the recent Suzuki 8 Hours endurance race, with the HEV resembling an entry-level Ninja sports bike.

Again, no concrete information was shared, but it looks like the entry-level electric bike could offer up to 11kW of power, just below the not-for-NZ Z250. It also has a small, potentially swappable battery and a single-speed gearbox. That battery design will likely be shared with Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha as the four have pledged to work together on a unified swappable battery design.

Details about the HEV remain a mystery, but those at the Suzuki 8 Hours race noticed the bike didn’t have a traditional clutch lever, instead using a button to actuate an electronically controlled clutch, and the engine looked to be the 400cc unit from the Ninja 400 and Z400.

Kawasaki will offer ten electrified motorbikes by 2025.

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Kawasaki will offer ten electrified motorbikes by 2025.

Combined output could put the hybrid on par with twin-cylinder 650cc bikes, while keeping fuel usage low.

Eight further models are yet to come as part of the 2025 goal, and while Kawasaki is understandably keeping those close to its chest, at least one will be hydrogen, and it could use the engine from the H2 superbike. The engine is also powering in-development four-wheeled applications.

Yamaha will work with Kawasaki to develop hydrogen-powered bikes, with Honda and Suzuki set to join them in the future. The four companies will maintain a “distinct line between cooperation and competition” by establishing a framework that defines areas of cooperation and collaborative research.

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