Love it or hate it, electronic powertrains are the way of the future. With most big OEM’s struggling to find a steady market, focus is slowly shifting away from bikes powered by dead dinosaurs toward those powered by electrons. Yamaha currently offers e-versions of its lineup’s smallest scooters, but Yamaha's new CEO Yoshihiro Hidaka – who was the company's corporate planning chief up until last month – aims to add more powerful e-two-wheelers to the company’s list of offerings.
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Hidaka plans to get the ball rolling by adding e-powered variants of the company’s popular 125cc scooters that will reportedly possess a standard output of up to 1kW. This may seem like a minor increase, but Hidaka sees this as the first step in creating larger and increasingly more powerful e-models as the technology continues to advance. A major part of the overall plan involves this month’s merging of business units tasked with developing electric motors and internal-combustion engines into a single powertrain unit that will share resources.
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Yamaha is optimistic that the development of technologies such as increased battery life can be utilized and taken advantage of by a handful of the corporation’s subsidiaries, not just its motorcycle division. A single advancement has potential application in a wide variety of areas, what’s good for Yamaha’s scooters is also good for its golf-carts, industrial robots, and so on.
As Randle recently pointed out, the difference between electric and gas bikes is far more than just a two-wheeler’s respective fuel-source, and the ramifications of an increasingly electric motorcycle market are extensive and somewhat unpredictable. However, the more standardized the electric market becomes the better. The growth of the e-bike segment has even seen Yamaha partner up with Honda on an e-scooter project. Yamaha’s current plans are only a small piece of a much bigger picture, but the company's investment in the technology represents a trend in the industry as a whole. You might not be able to hear them, but electric bikes are a coming.