Yamaha To Offer Electric Street Bikes by 2016

04/22/2014 @ 12:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS


You may remember the Yamaha PED1 and Yamaha PES1 electric motorcycle concepts, which the tuning fork brand debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. Modest, yet slightly futuristic looking, the overall impression we got from readers was that Yamaha was onto something with its PED1 and PES1 bikes, and it seems the Japanese OEM has heard your excitement.

Announcing plans in its 2013 Annual Report to bring the PED1 and PES1 to market by 2016, Yamaha is yet another major OEM to jump on the electric bandwagon and add legitimacy to this budding powertrain segment.

“In sports motorcycles, we are working to create new value with EV sports motorcycles, which we aim to launch in two years, with the development of the small, on-road sports PES1, as well as the PED1, which are being developed to expand the scope of electric vehicles to the off-road world. In addition to the advantages of being electrically powered, these motorcycles will offer the operability expected by existing motorcycle fans, together with a new riding experience,” says Yamaha’s annual report.

With both the PED1 and PES1 featuring swappable battery packs, Yamaha should be able to augment the limited range from its small battery size with the convenience of quick-charging swappable batteries.

As we know, the PES1 concept has already been testing with Yamaha engineers. With only two years until its production model debut, we can expect to see more consumer-ready versions testing and teasing. It will be interesting to see how Yamaha finalizes this design for the mainstream, and brings to market the first electric street bike from a major OEM.

As for the PED1, it will enter a more developed market, which has already seen the pump-fake debut of the KTM Freeride E – the Austrian brands now semi-paused electric dirt bike project.

With electrics making a little bit more sense in the off-road, trail-riding world, we imagine the swappable battery pack concept could be a killer app for this electric dirt bike, as it provides the opportunity for riders to “refuel” without a generator in between trail rides, and while in remote locations.

Of course, at the end of the day, price will be a huge factor for these machines. Already able to buy wheels, suspension, and other parts en masse, Yamaha should also  be able to make a strong price-point advantage because of the small battery sizes being used in their design.

With battery prices near $1000 / kWh, small battery packs are easier on MSRP budgets than larger ones, which should help ease the sticker shock we’ve seen with other electric motorcycles. Time will tell, of course.

Source: Yamaha

  • Mike

    Electrons are clearly an imaginary concept perpetrated by the military-industrial complex and controlled by Big Pharma, Big Science, Big Batteries, and Big Government, which is turn is completely control by Big Sheet Rock and Ceiling Tiles. It’s time to get with the program and throw off our Big Sheet Rock and Ceiling Tiles overlords and convert everything back to carburetors. Don’t be left stranded when the Obama EMP leaves you stranded and completely dependent upon Communist Washington! I know there’s guys in here who agree! Rise up and revolt!

  • jzj

    @ Mike: But if you throw off your sheetrock and ceiling tiles, where do they land?

    I’m curious to see how, at 100KG, Yamaha is going to make these things real motorcycles, and not low-performance moped-y things.

    BTW: I bought my 100A CALB cells last year at $400/KWH, and they’ve been performing fine. (True, including BMS increases the pack cost (part of the reason I don’t have BMS — the other being that I’ve yet to hear a DIY BMS success story.)

    Lastly, at 100KG (220 lbs.), I also doubt the Yamaha street bike will handle a passenger. My converted FZR has over 5KWH, weighs about 325lb., and can take a passenger. Making a good electric motorcycle can be done inexpensively and well, and it should be. All respect to Zero and Brammo for their efforts.

  • mudgun

    My normal rides are one very long day of 250 to 350 miles or several days up to 600 or 700 miles. Then I take aspirin and sleep for 12 to 16 hrs. when I get home. For my riding style electrics with batteries will never do (I’m 60+ yrs old). If by some chance I make it to 80 and can still ride, maybe the electricity will come from the road and I could ride as long as my elec. credit card has money on it. But I have to admit those little bikes look like they would be a lotta fun in the mtns. of North Carolina.

  • Al

    The problem is that most of us don’t know yet much about E-Power (Amps/Volts/Watts/Wh…) hence they can tell us…anything.
    $1000/KWh is…1Kw per hour for $1000…which is 1.34Hp (average use) for 1 hour…or 13.4Hp for 6 minutes…(or roughly 27Hp for 3 minutes)
    So you would need $1000 worth of batteries to ride (race? urban motocross etc.) for 6 (3) minutes…
    $2000 worth of batteries (2Kwh) to ride for 12 (6) minutes or $4000 worth of batteries (4Kwh) to ride for 24 (12) minutes…
    If you ride at an average of 60km/h you will get 24km (12) on $4000 worth of batteries (4Kwh) or 48km (24) on $8000 worth of batteries…(or like the CALB Cells mentioned (12C ?) $400/KWh =$3200 for 48km ($6400 for 96km).
    Now we haven’t even talked about how long those cells last/how much capacity they loose over time/how heavy they are…
    ‘Hot swappable batteries’ should be a given anyway.

  • Tom

    I’m really intrigued by these bikes, and design-wise I think they look fantastic. As previous comments suggest though, it’s hard to have a real world reference point for how useful they will be without us knowing more about e-power.

    I think most importantly though, my initial reaction when I saw this was “Why are they making an issue of producing these e-bikes ahead of any sort of information on refreshed R1’s, R6’s, the forthcoming R25/R30…..”

    Despite being a long time Yamaha fan, i’m getting deeply frustrated by their lack of contemporary presence in the sports segment. I know they’re had a couple of great nakeds debut this year, and yes e-bike tech is exciting, and no perhaps the sports segment isn’t as profitable as it once was, but a company as large as Yamaha can most certainly still put out profitable sports bikes.

    I fail to see the point in the huge investment they put into MotoGP if they’re not going to offer anything for the leagues of fans drawn to the brand by the M1. I don’t want a chubby R1 or a now very outdated R6. I want something to meet the excitement generated by their GP tech.

    Lovely e-bike idea Yamaha. But the market for those bikes is, at present, largely speculative. There is a real, hungry market and fan base for a segment that is being neglected. Even a trickle of development info would be nice!

  • Richard Gozinya

    Not even Zero’s batteries cost $1000 kwh, and they, as far as I can tell, have the most expensive battery packs out of anyone. Either that or they put a huge markup on their batteries. From my math, which could be off, their batteries are around $800 kwh. They’re also pretty weak on the energy density. Whereas BRD’s got a new pack with 160 wh/kg, which is higher than Tesla’s 135 wh/kg. No idea what they’ll cost though.

  • MrDefo

    Sportbikes are awesome, it’s true, but I think that now that we’ve reached the point where only a percentage of their capability can be used on roads, there’s little incentive for companies like Yamaha and Honda to really try and push the envelope with their bikes.

  • ML

    I want an electric bike that makes ‘pew pew pew’ noises.

  • jzj

    @ Al: I agree there is a definite learning curve to electric, so let me try to provide basic info.

    Range: My motorcycle needs about 100W to go a mile in the city. So, being careful to leave some in reserve so as not to overtax my battery, I can travel about 40 miles on my 5+KWH battery pack (I do not want to risk destroying a cell through over-discharge). However, were I to use it hard (say, if I took it on the highway, or went racing around on the track), then it would probably only have half that range.

    Performance: I’d say my bike feels like a 125cc. So much is up to the gearing you choose, but mine is best between 20-40 mph, and it is fun to ride around (it can get out of its own way). I have not checked top speed, but I would guess it is probably about 65 mph.

    Cost for use: Because I travel about 9 miles per KWH of charge (you lose about 10% in charging losses between the wall and the batteries), the cost is a function of the cost of a KWH of electricity. For example, if your electricity is $.18/KWH, then it costs 2 cents per mile. (I have solar which is paid off in savings, so my cost is basically zero.) There are no engine maintenance costs (no oil changes or tune-ups or parts replacement or repair).

    Pollution: Virtually no motorcycles have catalytic converters, and so most motorcycles are heavy polluters. In California, motorcycles account for 1% of vehicle miles traveled, but 10% of smog-forming vehicle emissions. This seems to catch a lot of people by surprise, but makes sense if you think about it.

    Practicality: Many people are hung up on range. But how do you actually use your bike? For years, I had a “hybrid garage”: one electric motorcycle, and one gas motorcycle (we also have one electric car and one gas car.) I would use the electric for getting around town, and the gas for highway trips. The reality was that I found that most all my trips were around town. I finally sold my gas bike as I couldn’t justify it taking up space. Obviously this is true for me and may not be true for others, but it’s worth really considering the reality of how you ride.

  • Jake

    People always seem to get hung up on the range of E-Bikes. They are not meant for, or ever will be, intended for long rides and touring. These are built for the city or for otherwise short excursions, less than 100 miles at a time. Given that expectation, if the cost to performance ratio is comparable, then I’d be all over a little electric supermoto commuter bike. Especially if I could hot swap the batteries and use it for practicing off road riding or track days.

    The beauty of low range expectations is that you can have smaller batteries, thus lower weight and cheaper replacement. As long as it can get me around the city, say 30 miles of full power, it would be perfect. throw up some solar panels on the garage and get free riding forever!

  • Al

    Range might not be an issue for some but it will be for many.
    That’s why the car industry has created hybrids until the battery technology is good enough to get an energy density closer to gas/petrol.
    And a hybrid like the Honda Accord plug-in (with a larger battery pack) gives the best of both worlds because the ICE can directly drive the wheels (not like others).
    Driving modes are either All Electric, Gasoline-Electric or ICE Direct Drive.
    You get the torque (for acceleration, uphills…), quiteness, ‘no’ pollution, less fuel cost etc. of the electric drive AND the range, proven technology, fuel density, variety of ICE’s, etc. of gasoline power.
    And with the latest hubmotors (EnerTrac…) room for the E-Motor is not a problem and a smaller battery pack can be used because one is not dependent as much on an all electric range.
    Some of the ICE power can be used at certain times (cruising, in town, downhill..) to recharge the battery (=smaller battery) but what I really like is to be able to use E-power TOGETHER with ICE-power (awesome torque).
    And it it wouldn’t need to be (much) heavier than a ‘normal’ bike because the ICE can be smaller…because the all up power is made up of both power sources.

  • Al: average power in non-sport riding is much lower than those figures. Just like with a gas bike, you’re not riding it at the peak power (WOT @ high RPM) for very long, if at all.

    Power: typically measured in kW, similar to hp. 1 kW = 1.33 hp. Usually electric motorcycle power refers to the motor, but the batteries and motor controller also have to be able to supply the requested power. Think of these like fuel pumps in a gas bike.

    A typical electric bike from Zero or Brammo has 40 kW peak motor power = 54 hp and a nearly flat torque curve.

    Energy: typically measured in kWh, similar to gas capacity in a fuel tank. 1 kWh = 1 kW for an hour. For comparative purposes, 1 gallon of gas produces the same motive energy as about 6 kWh energy stored in a battery. (Gas has much more chemical energy, but so-called thermal engines use most of the energy to produce heat not motion)

    The largest electric bikes from Zero and Brammo have 9 – 12 kWh, so roughly equivalent to 1.5 to 2 gallons of gas. Mission and Brutus are introducing bikes with significantly higher capacity.

    Efficiency: typically measured in Wh/mile. This is the same type of expression as gallons/100 miles. A 12 kWh bike operating at 150 Wh/mile has 80 miles of range (12 kWh = 12000 Wh / 150 Wh/mile = 80). Electric bikes tend to be more efficient in low-speed riding, which results in longer range at low speeds.

    Jake: electric touring is possible, but it really needs level 3 DC charging for minimal inconvenience, similar to Tesla’s Supercharger network.

    The Mission R is an example of the type of bike that can tour with reasonable speeds. Mission claims 140 miles of real-world range for their top-spec bike, likely in mostly highway operation; this is 2-3 hours of riding with a 30 minute charge. I assume the 30 minute charge is to 80%. More realistically you will stop every 20 minutes for a 50% charge.

    An example 200 mile trip:

    – start at full w/ 140 miles of range
    – ride for 1.5 hours = 100 miles, discharge down to 29%
    – stop for 20 minutes, charge back to 82% (+75 miles of range)
    – ride for 1.5 hours = 100 miles, discharge down to 10% (14 miles remaining)
    – charge at destination @ 6 kW AC = 3 hours

    Total ride time: 3 hours. Total mid-trip charge time: 20 minutes. Pretty reasonable.

    Every 100 miles added to the trip will add a 30 minute break, or one 20 minute break every hour of riding. If you ride at lower speeds – say 50 mph average instead of 70 mph – then you can probably reduce the total length of the charging breaks by 20%.

    200 mile trip: 20 minutes total, 1 break
    300 mile trip: 40-50 minutes total, 2 breaks
    400 mile trip: 70-80 minutes total, 3-4 breaks
    500 mile trip: 100-120 minutes total, 4-5 breaks

    So a 500 mile trip – roughly 7-10 hours of riding – will need about 2 hours of breaks to recharge during the trip. I think that’s reasonable for non-ironbutt riding.

  • jzj

    @protomech: great info!