Kawasaki Lifts Cover On Its Gas-Electric Hybrid Prototype Bike
We’ve been following Kawasaki’s hybrid motorcycle development since the firm filed patents in July, 2019. By November, 2021, Team Green gave us a peek at its progress with a short video laying out the philosophy behind the project. Then, an April, 2021, patent revealed Kawi’s new 48V hybrid battery design. Now, Kawasaki has pulled back the curtain (and the fairings) on its latest hybrid build while committing to a 2025 gas-electric hybrid production models.
Due to the chassis, front headlight configuration, and exhaust system, the prototype looks like it’s based on the Ninja 400. Kawasaki hasn’t officially confirmed our suspicions, but leveraging the entry-level sportbike aligns with current hybrid technology limitations. In automobiles, it’s easier for manufacturers to pair electric and internal combustion powertrains. In motorcycles, however, space is a much more limited resource. As a result, the firm couples its existing small-capacity parallel twin with a compact electric power unit.
From the beginning, Kawasaki has developed its hybrid project with the idea that riders would utilize the powertrains in different environments. The internal combustion engine suits highway riding, while the electric motor works best in urban environments. On a twisty road, both would work in concert to deliver the best of both worlds. It seems like the small-bore Ninja-based prototype would satisfy those requirements while also providing enough room to accommodate the new apparatus.
Of course, with two powertrains, the transmission will have to play nice with both systems, and Kawi’s automated gearshift smooths that transition. The new feature consists of an automated clutch, servo-powered shifter, and push-buttons for the user to operate. With so many European cities introducing zero emissions zones lately (and only more to come), the hybrid technology may be the perfect happy-medium between holding on to the range and convenience of gas-powered motorcycles while adopting cleaner and more efficient running powertrains.
For some, 2025 may be a long time to wait, but it’s encouraging to see Kawasaki’s project progress at such a rapid rate. Hopefully, we can say the same for the gas-electric hybrid’s acceleration when it hits the market in a few years.