Auto Tech

Honda tests fast-charging e-scooters in Spain

Honda will lease 18 fast-charging e-scooters to the Barcelona City Council as part of its European demonstration program for the zero-emissions technology.

Honda's first electric vehicle to hit the road in Europe will be a scooter. The auto manufacturer began testing its zero emissions scooter in Barcelona this week as part of a test program to help Honda analyze how the new technology performs with European driving patterns. The EV-neo is already available for lease in Japan, and the Barcelona City Council will be the first EU customers to receive the e-scooters.

Driving at 18 mph, the Honda EV-neo has a range of 21 miles. It's not far, but the electric scooter comes with a portable rapid charger to replenish drained batteries to full capacity in 30 minutes. Unlike most rapid chargers, the EV-neo's fast charger uses a stepped-down method to charge the battery to 100 percent capacity. When connected to the scooter and a wall socket, the device, which is about the size of a large briefcase, uses high current charging to quickly replenish the battery until it's almost full, and switches to low-current charging to complete the charge. In vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i (formerly i-Miev), rapid charging is limited to achieve only 80 percent battery capacity to avoid overheating. The stepped-down charging method should give EV-neo drivers fast charging capability at full capacity without battery degradation.

The rapid charger is technically a portable device, but it will probably be kept in the driver's garage and used for fast turnarounds. To recharge the scooter's battery once they get to a destination, drivers can use the standard charger. The standard charger is stored under the bike seat and takes about 3 and a half hours to recharge an empty battery.

Motorcycles account for 30 percent of all vehicles in Barcelona. The Barcelona City Council will lease 18 EV-neos for a year, and daily monitoring of the vehicles will report on riding distance, charging time, and load conditions. Honda began leasing the e-scooter in Japan in April, and expects to sell approximately 1,000 in the first year. The base price for the EV-neo starts at approximately $5,633 U.S. dollars. No plans to sell the electric scooter in the EU or U.S. were announced.