While India eagerly awaits an Activa-type Honda electric scooter to set the EV market ablaze in the first half of the decade, a Honda electric bike based on the Honda CB125R could be in the works. The Honda CB125R is the smallest member of the Honda Neo Sports Cafe naked bike family.
ElectricVehicleWeb.in has come across a new overseas patent filing for the power unit structure of a new Honda electric bike. If it makes it to the production, the model could be the first Honda Neo Retro Sports Cafe EV. The size and design of the bike in the patent application looks very close to that of the Honda CB125R. Honda has chosen this platform for its electric bike probably because, like in the case of the CB125R, its main target customers would be style-conscious young riders who need a simple vehicle to move around the city.
The patented Honda electric bike features two rectangular parallelepiped high-voltage batteries positioned below the tank and rider seat. The power unit or the propulsion motor is placed all the way down and is denoted by the letter ‘P’ in the patent images. The power control unit (PCU), part no. 18 in the picture, is positioned right above it, which means that the harness connecting it with the motor can be kept short.
As for the batteries, it is positioned under the tank, item no. 37 is relatively bigger and should be the main one. That, and the second battery positioned under the rider seat, item no. 36, are horizontally mounted. It’s safe to assume that the main battery won’t be swappable.
Video Courtesy: Honda Moto France
Swappable batteries offer more convenience and allow an immediate solution in the case of battery depletion and is a new business model for auto manufacturers. The Honda PCX Electric electric maxi-scooter comes with a “Honda Mobile Power Pack” that comprises two such (1.05 kWh Lithium-ion) removable batteries.
Why the Honda Electric Bike will not launch in India anytime soon
The Honda electric bike seen in the patent images could be launched in Europe sometime next year. While there is speak of locally manufacturing the Honda CB300R in the next generation, we don’t expect to see this fully electric Honda Neo Retro Sports Cafe model in India.
India is the biggest market of Honda when it comes to two-wheeler business, and so, it has heavily invested in ICE two-wheelers for India. The company is worried about its two-wheeler business taking a hit if it were to rapidly switch electric powertrain at this point. Atsushi Ogata, MD, President & CEO, Honda (two-wheelers, India), told The Economic Times recently that any such move would create supply chain and manufacturing issues. Ogata also suggested that a Honda electric bike in India or a Honda electric scooter in India could prove to be too costly right now:
It is quite dangerous to convert from gas to EV in a short time because we have a supply chain, a lot of products and the capacity to produce. Mainly our profit centre is the Indian and other Asian markets.Atsushi Ogata, MD, President & CEO, Honda (two-wheelers, India)
Ogata said that a sudden shift from ICE two-wheelers to electric two-wheelers will create “financial challenges” for Honda, and so, the company is thinking of alternative solutions, including introducing B2B usage or commercial electric two-wheelers as ecommerce takes off in the post-pandemic world. The company could launch a fleet-focused EV (such as an inexpensive last mile delivery vehicle) instead of a Honda Activa electric or a Honda electric bike. That said, the plan before the pandemic was to bring a Chinese-made Honda electric scooter/bike to India for a feasibility study.
When will the Honda electric bike launch in India?
Atsushi Ogata, MD, President & CEO of Honda India has confirmed that there’s no plan to launch a Honda electric bike at the moment.