The electric motorcycle segment is beginning to mature. We know this because word from Japan has Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha collaborating together on various standards for electric motorcycles.
If it doesn’t immediately strike you as such, this is incredibly big news.
The move sees the Big Four creating a consortium that will work together to bring homogenized battery, charging, infrastructure, and other items into reality so that there can be interoperability between the brands and less confusion in the marketplace.
With the Japanese brands accounting for roughly half of the motorcycles sold worldwide, their combined efforts could create a de facto world standard for electric vehicles and charging structures, though we could easily see competing standards forming in the North American and European markets.
Still, the move is a positive sign for electric motorcycles, and overall the electric vehicle industry, as the efforts of the Big Four will go a long way in tearing down some of the barriers to making electrics viable and more mainstream.
The news is timely, of course. Honda just a few weeks ago debuted a very convincing electric dirt bike prototype, which looks close to being production ready. Honda has also been linked to the electric racing efforts done by Mugen at the Isle of Man TT.
Yamaha has also being playing in the EV field, and they have more than a few off-road, on-road, and trials EV concepts that they have been playing with, in and out of the public eye. Rumors also swell regarding what Kawasaki and Suzuki are planning for electric two-wheelers.
While the EV consortium is still in its infancy, it will be interesting to see if any other manufacturers sign onto their efforts, or instead band together to make their own.
We have seen competing standards fracture markets in the past, but as Thomas Friedman points out, The World Is Flat. With a global economy, it seems unlikely that we will see multiple standards prevailing and surviving in regional markets.
Instead, we predict that there will be one standard to rule them all. As such, it looks like the Japanese are in the first steps of controlling what the future of EVs looks like. May you live in interesting times.