As motorcycles shift from gasoline to electric and hybrid options to reduce their carbon footprint, Kawasaki is not forgetting to include FUN. Let’s hear from a member of the development team working on our hybrid motorcycles (HEV), which, in addition to being environmentally friendly, offer a new kind of enjoyment. (This article is a part of Kawasaki ViSiON MAP 2030, which imagines the future of the Kawasaki Group.)
Joined the company in 2014. From the start he liked motorcycles, and with a background in Electric and Information Systems, the motorcycle industry, where electronic control was making rapid advances, was a source of great interest when he began looking for work. Currently he is the sub-leader of the hybrid motorcycle (HEV) development, in charge of machine testing and evaluation.
We Are Not Forgetting Fun. Choosing a Path that Offers Both Fun and Environmentally Friendliness.
I’m sure everyone has noticed the increased prevalence of hybrid and electric cars. Like automobiles, the demand for environmentally friendly motorcycles with reduced carbon emissions is increasing. While many motorcycle manufacturers are focusing on the development of electric vehicles (EV) that are propelled by electricity, we are creating hybrid motorcycles (HEV) that use both gasoline and electric power. Why? Because we believe that FUN is an essential factor of what makes a motorcycle. We want to keep the sound and vibration of an engine while creating an environmentally friendly machine. Add to that the strong acceleration that motors can offer, and new kinds of fun can be experienced. That is the kind of thinking we are bringing to our HEV development.
Starting From “Unrideable”
HEV structure is completely different than what we have seen in machines up until now. To realise a powertrain with HEV Mode—where the motorcycle runs using both the engine and motor—and EV Mode—where only the motor is used, there are many issues that cannot be solved by relying solely on past experience. And then, of course, we need to add the FUN factor. Achieving everything on our wish list is a huge challenge. During development, when we first started testing the machine, things didn’t always go well. Some of the harshest comments from our test riders included, “totally unrideable.” But that became our motivation. Seeing development progress and the product grow brings a kind of joy in and of itself. When we get positive feedback from the test group, or when the test results suggest that something we didn’t know and had to study looks like it’s heading in the right direction, it gives me the feeling that what we are creating—something the world hasn’t seen—almost lets us reach out and touch the future.
Hydrogen Engines and Biofuel. Looking Forward to the Process of Development.
In the 2030s, emissions regulations will be even stricter than they are now. To meet these regulations, we are exploring several new paths, like EV and hydrogen engine development, and using biofuels, etc. Adapting to the demands and challenges of the world means that we need to be continually changing. All the while, never forgetting the FUN that riding a motorcycle brings. Enjoying the challenge of ensuring our machines are FUN to RIDE—that’s something I hope will always be a part of Kawasaki Motors.
The information contained in the article is current as of December 2022.
"Kawasaki ViSiON MAP 2030" presents the future we want to realize by the year 2030, presented through the voices of Kawasaki staff working towards our vision. We hope you join us to learn about their efforts in social change, and to imagine the future we can achieve together.