On March 3, 2022, Yamaha Motor Europe presented a total of six new electric two-wheelers, including a couple of concepts. Three of them were e-bikes, two more were concepts, and one is a production-ready electric scooter with a full launch expected in the next few weeks. Let’s take a peek at what’s in store.
The first thing you might notice is the color choice for Yamaha’s electric line. While Yamaha has long used its signature blue color to distinguish itself from other motorcycle manufacturers, Yamaha Motor Europe says it chose this new aqua color for its electric line because it combines blue with green. Simple enough, right?
Yamaha also pulled the covers off the long-awaited, production-ready electric NEO’s scooter. It’s based on the E02 concept first shown at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and will produce 50cc-equivalent electric power. The lines of a step-through small scooter with modern styling are all present—and crucially, it features removable, swappable batteries to make electric scooter life much more practical for riders. They store directly under the saddle, which leads to questions about how much (if any) underseat storage is available—but surely that will become clearer when the NEO’s actually launches.
As for the two concepts, the E01 is clearly a modern scooter design, but with a slightly different face to its combustion Yamaha Europe contemporaries, the TMAX, XMAX, NMAX, and D’elight. It was clearly designed as a cousin, meant to bear a family resemblance that tells you they’re related, while still maintaining its own distinct identity.
The plan for the E01, Yamaha Motor Europe president and CEO Eric de Seynes said, is to have a ridesharing trial in a yet-to-be-named major European city. That will serve two purposes. Yamaha will learn more about what urban riders want out of a 125cc-equivalent electric scooter, and users in that city will get to experience this new scooter before anyone else. It’s not clear exactly when this trial will happen, but it seems likely to occur sometime later in 2022.
The other concept seems a little less conceptual. Is it an e-bike? Is it a moped? Yamaha is calling it the B01 concept, which automatically differentiates it from the E0-something naming convention it’s so far established for its electric scooters. There’s a little more at work here, though. Does this concept look familiar to you? If it does, there’s a good reason why.
Remember back in 2020 when we told you about Yamaha Europe, Motori Minarelli, and Fantic Motors? Fantic has been working on e-mobility for years—which, let’s be clear, so has Yamaha. Earlier in 2021, Fantic fully acquired Motori Minarelli, which helped to strengthen Fantic’s electric powertrain development plans. Fantic’s ongoing partnership with Yamaha also stands to benefit—and it’s Fantic that’s key to why the Yamaha B01 concept may look familiar to you.
Crossing back over the pond for a moment, in January, 2022, we told you about Tucker Powersports signing distribution deals with Fantic and New Zealand-based UBCO for electric vehicle distribution in the U.S. At the time, we told you that the deal with Fantic would only cover its electric bikes, and not its combustion models. Enter the Fantic Issimo, a little low-speed urban runabout electric bike that’s been winning both hearts and design awards in Europe since its introduction.
The Yamaha B01 appears to be a rebadged, repainted Fantic Issimo. Although he stops short of saying so outright, Yamaha Europe president de Seynes’ discussion of Yamaha’s ongoing partnership with Fantic in this presentation seems to confirm it. Now, we haven’t ridden one of these, but it’s a cool design—and Yamaha has a global reach. It’s not clear at this point if the U.S. will eventually get any of these e-scooter models, but we do already get the Fantic Issimo, and we do get Yamaha (and other) e-bikes. As always, we’ll have to wait and see how Yamaha’s electrification strategies play out.