When it comes to electric motorbikes, Honda's seemingly slow response to upstarts like Zero and Energica stealing all the glory raised a few eyebrows. Once the legacy OEM hit the ground, though, it's been eager to make moves to reach the increasingly ambitious goals that it's set for itself.

In September 2022, it announced a plan to release 10 electric two-wheelers by 2025. However, by the end of November 2023, it upped the ante. Now, it says it wants to produce 30 electric two-wheelers by 2030, and also to sell a total of four million electric motorbikes worldwide by the turn of the new decade. 

In December 2023, respected Japanese publication Young Machine noted that Honda had recently filed a trademark application for something called the CUV e:. So far, Honda has not released any official information about any vehicle bearing that name as of December 18, 2023. Here's everything we know so far as we anticipate what's to come.

Honda released its first-ever electric motorbike in 1994, and it was called the CUV-ES.

Honda Electric Motorbike Timeline

If you spend much time reading Honda electric vehicle timelines, the company is quite proud to point out that the 1994 CUV-ES started things on two wheels for the company. As 2024 dawns, the CUV-ES nameplate will be 30 years old. 

Based on the combustion-powered Honda Dio scooter, the original CUV-ES was only sold in Japan in limited numbers. As you can imagine, battery technology in 1994 wasn't anywhere close to what it is as we approach 2024, and nickel cadmium batteries were the order of the day (as compared to lithium ion in 2023).

Charging time was a pretty rough eight hours, and range was said to be around 61 kilometers if you only went about 30 kilometers per hour. If you prefer miles, that's just under 38 miles on a single charge and an approximately 18.6 mile per hour average speed.

In the 2020s, Honda uses the e: vehicle designation on many of its current electric vehicles, both on two and four wheels.

Honda Mobile Power Packs and Benly e:

As a global brand, Honda doesn't sell every vehicle in every market. However, on the four-wheeled side, you can find the Honda e and the Honda e:Ny1 in markets like the UK (though not in the US), as two examples. Both are fully electric four-wheeled passenger vehicles.

Over on the motorbike side, there are already even more Honda e: vehicles to consider.

We have the Benly e:, Gyro e:, and Gyro Canopy e: , which are all commercial two- and three-wheelers that Honda released first in Japan and then elsewhere in Asia. All three of these vehicles are powered by the swappable Honda Mobile Power Pack e:, which is what Honda calls its small battery packs for two- and three-wheelers and other equipment.

Earlier in 2023, it released the EM1 e: electric scooter, which was Honda's first electric motorbike released in Europe. This scoot was first introduced to the world at EICMA 2022. While it marked a European-market first, the model has also continued to be released by Honda in other places in the world, such as Indonesia.

At the Japan Mobility Show 2023, Honda showed off another future electric scooter that will use the e: designation, the SC e: . Current plans are to bring it to market sometime in late 2024 as a 2025 model.

Honda loves resurrecting its historic name badges on new models.

Honda Original CUV Trademark from 1994
Honda Original CUV Trademark from 1994 - Notes

To be completely fair, Honda's certainly not the only historic motorbike company that does this sort of thing. You could even say that it's a trait of motorcycle companies in general. If there's any kind of history to tap into, you can pretty much rest assured that a manufacturer will be all too happy to tap into that nostalgia many times over.

Now, the Honda CUV-ES was nowhere near as well known or loved as, say, the Cub. What the CUV-ES has that the Cub doesn't is that it was Honda's first-ever electric motorbike, and being the first counts for something. That goes double if the event took place 30 years ago. If you're Honda, why wouldn't you want to draw attention to that fact as much as you could?

Honda has already combined historic model names with its new e: designation on a trio of electric bicycles it's released in China.

Honda Cub e, Dax e, and Zoomer e e-bikes for China

The Cub e:, Dax e:, and Zoomer e: may all be electric bicycles, not even mopeds or scooters. However, they're clearly meant to resemble their more powerful, historic, combustion-powered namesakes. 

These three new Honda electric two-wheelers sit neatly at the intersection of two things: That e: designation for electric vehicles, and use of three classic model nameplates in a new electric iteration.

The path of the Honda CUV e: hasn't officially been declared yet, but the historic math is clear.

New Honda Dio 125 Is Ready To Tackle India's Busy Streets

While Honda has yet to officially announce the CUV e: for any market, adding up the historic context we have so far regarding Honda's choices paints a fairly clear picture about what we can expect. 

How closely will the Honda CUV e: resemble the CUV-ES (at least, on the outside)? It's worth noting that the combustion-powered Honda Dio scooter, upon which the original CUV-ES was based in 1994, is still going strong in 2023. It's a commuter scooter model that you're more likely to find in markets where commuter scooters and small-displacement motorcycles are popular. They're all over Asia in various displacements and iterations, where they've been sold for years.

Conclusion

2023 Honda CB750 Hornet - Front, Left
2024 Honda XL750 Transalp - Studio - Right Side
Honda Hawk 11 - Right Side Alternate

In just the past few years, Honda has successfully resurrected not one, not two, but four historic model names that had lain dormant for several years. There was the Hawk 11 in 2022, as well as the CB750 Hornet (and we can't forget the earlier, smaller Hornet 2.0 single-cylinder in India), and of course the XL750 Transalp in 2023

For 2024, Honda also made the choice to rename the popular and successful CB500X to the NX500, in honor of its historic Dominator series from the 1980s. No matter what you may think of these choices, it's exceedingly clear that Honda isn't shy about drawing attention to its history and heritage.

Where the CUV e: differs from these four most recent examples is in the fact that it's electric. However, as the earlier trio of electric bicycles illustrates, just because it doesn't have a piston doesn't mean that Honda won't call it a Cub. Or a CUV.

2024 Honda NX500 - Parked
Honda NX650 Dominator
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