WAKO-SHI, Japan--Honda Motor unveiled on Tuesday an all-electric scooter that will mark its first attempt at mass-marketing zero-emission motorbikes, with an eye to eventually taking on rivals in the massive Chinese market.
The EV-neo, similar in size to a 50cc scooter, will be aimed at commercial users in Japan, with a range of more than 30 kilometers on a full charge. Lease sales will begin in December in Japan, the world's top motorcycle maker said.
Toshiyuki Inuma, general manager of Honda's motorcycle operations, said the automaker had no immediate plans for a launch outside Japan but that China was in its sights, with annual demand for electric bikes in that market estimated at 17 million units.
"We'll need to work on the cost and performance further to make it commercially viable," Inuma told reporters at a test-ride event for the prototype model.
Honda did not disclose a price range for the EV-neo, but said the cost to the customer would be roughly equivalent to a similar gasoline scooter after accounting for lower power, maintenance, and other running costs.
The scooter's lithium ion batteries can be recharged to about 80 percent of capacity in 20 minutes using a rapid charger, or fully charged with a normal socket in four hours, Honda said.
Rival Yamaha Motor, the world's second-biggest motorcycle maker, is also due to begin selling a battery-run scooter in Japan later this year, with plans for launch also in Taiwan and Europe.
Yamaha had discontinued a range of electric scooters sold between 2002 and 2006 in Japan after their lithium ion batteries, made by a unit of Hitachi Ltd, were recalled.
Honda's EV-neo will use batteries made by Toshiba.