As of April, 2022, the electric motorcycle revolution hasn’t totally taken off just yet—particularly with legacy OEMs. While we are starting to see shifts—Triumph’s Project TE-1 prototype, Yamaha’s recent NEO’s and E01 introductions, and Honda’s growing range of electric delivery bikes and trikes to name three—it’s clear there’s a long way to go before widespread adoption.
Can biofuels and synthetics help bridge the gap from the high-CO2-emissions combustion era to a cleaner, greener future? Yamaha Motor believes it can—at least, in Asian markets. In two recent interviews, Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka cited some reasons why Yamaha is exploring more than one motorbike-related solution to the world’s growing climate crisis.
Speaking to Nikkei CNBC, Hidaka talked about Yamaha’s ongoing hydrogen engine development plans. “CO2 may be treated as a bad thing, but I believe the engine itself is not. We have to seek a solution for internal combustion engines that do not emit CO2." Of course, the environmental benefits of hydrogen depend on how that hydrogen is being sourced—which is another problem we have yet to solve in 2022.
Other reasons Hidaka has recently mentioned for why Yamaha is pursuing this strategy are fairly straightforward. For one, infrastructure to adapt to biofuels and hydrogen already exists. From a purely logistical standpoint, it’s a much easier thing to contemplate than the shift to all-electric vehicles. For another thing, Hidaka says that in multiple countries, electricity supplies may not be very stable. If all or most vehicles need access to electricity in order to run, that could pose a significant problem.
Now, none of this means that Yamaha isn’t also planning on electrification—just that it’s pursuing multiple angles at once. According to Nikkei Asia, the whole of Asia represents about 80 percent of Yamaha’s annual shipments—so it’s very easy to understand why it wants to take all possible angles affecting those markets into account.
For the moment, Hidaka hasn’t given any details about specific motorbike models. As to whether or not we’ll see any of these bikes and/or this technology outside of Asia, that’s another question that we don’t know the answer to just yet. In any case, as and when we have updates on Yamaha’s emissions-lowering tactics, we’ll be sure to let you know.