The green fad in Japan is expanding from cars to bikes with Honda’s zero-emission super-quiet electric EV-neo scooter.
The EV-neo, shown on Tuesday at Honda Motor Co.’s research facility in this Tokyo suburb, zipped around emitting just a calm whirring sound, with none of a motorcycle’s gritty growl.
Honda plans to start leasing the scooters — the equivalent of a 50cc gasoline-powered bike — in December and says its target market is companies that make deliveries, such as newspapers and pizza parlours. The EV-neo has a cruising range of 30 kilometers (19 miles) on one charge.
Honda, Japan’s No. 2 automaker, has a booming motorcycle division and makes popular cars such as the Odyssey minivan and Insight hybrid.
The EV-neo gives Honda a chance to push an electric vehicle, an area where it has been less aggressive than rivals such as Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said Honda General Manager Toshiyuki Inuma.
“The motorcycle is a more nimble business, and it allows us to try out more things,” said Mr. Inuma.
Overseas plans and sales to individual consumers for EV-neo are still undecided.
Honda plans to lease the scooters instead of selling them and hopes to set a price will that will cost less than a regular bike over three years including gas prices — a range that would be about 600,000 yen ($6,000) to 800,000 ($8,000) each.
Interest in getting around ecologically is growing in Japan and government incentives for hybrids have made Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid the top-selling car for nearly a year.