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E-KIZUNA powerhouse to drive electric motorcycle uptake in Japan

E-KIZUNA project agreement is signed. Source: Honda

Honda and Yamaha come together to test electric motorcycle project for E-KIZUNA.

The city of Saitama, Japan, Honda Motor, and Yamaha Motor revealed that this agreement marks the first joint initiative between a government body and motorcycle manufacturers. The partnership has come about as a result of the E-KIZUNA project, established in 2011, to combat three pertinent issues surrounding low EV uptake and usage.

These issues were identified as: short range, the high cost compared with ICEs, and lack of awareness. In a bid to rectify such concerns, the E-KIZUNA project will construct a charging safety net, demand the implementation and management of incentive programmes and instigate community-based education to raise awareness.

The project’s latest phase involves offering a rental and battery exchange service to the residents of Saitama City. There, the public can access low-emission and electric motorcycles as well as mechanic services. These will be provided by Honda and Yamaha technologies. The two companies announced the collaboration earlier this month as well as reiterating the priorities of the E-KIZUNA project.

In addition to technology, pre-existing city infrastructure will support the venture, situated at the Saitama-Shintoshin Station. The decision to place the services centre at the station was probably made to take advantage of bicycle users and foot traffic already established at the location. There are plans for an EV motorcycle sharing scheme if the evaluation proves the venture to be successful.

However, the location and rationale may also cause problems. Bicycle users are already operating without emissions or the necessary costs involved in owning a motor vehicle. This means that they could be difficult to convert to other transport options. Similarly, foot traffic may not need transport to and from the station so do not require a vehicle of any kind. Presumably, the proposed services centre will be there to target those who drive to the station from other cities in the Saitama Prefecture or those who have a a journey which is inconvenient for walking or cycling.

Yet, the E-KIZUNA project is still particularly interesting because it hopes to promote collaboration with other municipalities outside of Saitama City. Other collaborative projects tend towards fleet electrification, rather than provision for personal use, and do not usually promise to extend out of certain regions or cities. In this way, the plan to increase the number of low and zero emission motorcycles, instead of ICE cars, may prove successful by developing widely used practices across many areas.

 

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