In a move that blindsided our entire industry, Kawasaki has just debuted a pair of late-stage hybrid and electric prototypes in a demonstration that had even factory insiders shocked.
Revealed at Japan’s Suzuka 8-Hour Race, the ‘HEV’ and ‘EV’ models are a big step forward into Kawi’s goal to have ‘at least 10 electric or hybrid models in the range by 2025.’
Thanks to detailed images from Japan’s magazine ‘Auto-By’ (via Cycleworld), we’ve got a front row seat to what these machines look like.
Kawasaki ‘HEV’ Hybrid
One thing’s for sure; Kawasaki is obviously planning on carrying their lean, mean aethetic into the next generation – a touch we’re so happy to see in the all-new ‘HEV.’
The badass angulature of the fairings are a welcome change to the stripped frame we saw late last year.
Complimenting the visuals are a longer exhaust than the Ninja 250/Z250. We also have dual front disc brakes (the late 2021 prototype had a single disc), along with a different downward pipe and the hefty potential that Kawi is working with a tweaked engine more similar to what’s in the parallel-twin Ninja 400/Z400 (although if Cycleworld is correct, the addition of electric energy could mean power more on par with Kawasaki’s Ninja 650).
The 48-volt battery isn positioned under the saddle, with an additional 12-volt also in there to keep the lights on (literally).
As for how the electric side works with gas, Cycleworld puts things very nicely:
“The hybrid setup features an electric motor mounted above the transmission, just below the intake tracts of the IC engine and linked to the gearbox via its own electronically controlled clutch. This allows the electric-drive element to be engaged and disengaged as needed.”
“While the transmission is a relatively conventional design internally, and believed to be a six-speed, it has no shift lever or hand-operated clutch. Instead, there’s a push-button shifter on the left handlebar.”
Similar to hybrid cars out on the road today, this machine will likely show off full electric power at low, urban-centric speeds, with the highway miles allowing the gas to take over, recharging the hybrid battery en route.
Back in 2019, Kawi showed off a heavy unit with 125cc-ish performance and s nifty ‘car-style charging system using the CHAdeMO DC fast-charging format.’
Obviously the lab’s turned out a finer tuned beast for the masses; instead of the shiftable 4 gears, we see a direct drive, single-speed package, along with what could potentially be a swappable battery (a huge improvement from the clunky unit previous).
A steel chassis and box-section swingarm is shown off with a naked aesthetic, which accompanies affordable wheels, brakes and suspension.
On top of all this, we’re reminded that Kawi will likely also punt out a zero-emission full-fairing unit, and all by 2023.
With EICMA just around the corner (and Kawasaki announcing last year at EICMA as to their zero-emission intentions), we’re expecting the brand to not only attend, but to turn their podiums out with a full reveal of the finished products.
Regardless of what’s in store for these two, we’ll keep you posted as more news comes trickling down the proverbial pipeline; stay tuned, drop a comment below letting us know what you think, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties.