Yamaha Motor Corp. is set to unveil an electric scooter in key markets next year as the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer seeks to deliver greener products.
Yamaha will start offering small EV scooters in Europe, and lease medium-sized bikes in Europe, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand starting from spring, Chief Executive Officer Yoshihiro Hidaka said at a briefing Wednesday. They are based on the company’s E01, E02 concept models unveiled at 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
Yamaha and other motorcycle companies are betting that more people will avoid public transit in the pandemic-era, boosting demand for bikes. The global market for electric scooters and motorcycles is set to expand about 33% annually from 2021 to 2030, according to Quince Market Insights. Yamaha’s goal is to electrify 90% of its lineup by 2050 while rival Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. has said it will mostly offer EVs and hybrids in advanced markets by 2035.
“There are strong requests for EV scooters from Europe,” said Hidaka, adding that the pandemic has prompted European cities to add more parking spots for bikes instead of cars. “City structures are changing and they won’t go back” to pre-pandemic times, he said.
Pricing and ranges for the EV scooters haven’t yet been disclosed. But the range will be longer than E-Vino, Yamaha’s current EV commuter, which runs about 30 kilometers on a single charge, according to Hidaka.
Disruptions to the global supply chain are also weighing on Yamaha, the CEO said. While demand is strong, inventories are thin and the company needs to figure out how to procure parts and deliver products next year. Price hikes of raw materials such as aluminum, rubber and resin will likely pressure profits, according to Hidaka.
Yamaha will focus resources on its core businesses while “cutting branches that won’t grow” to invest more in sustainable businesses, the CEO said.
“There will be a future when electric vehicles are cheaper than gasoline ones,” Hidaka said, while acknowledging that bringing down costs, especially for batteries, is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to EVs. “It will be a profitable business by 2050.”