Back in the fall of 2009, Yamaha debuted a hybrid motorcycle, the HV-X, with production planned in the coming year. Now, Yamaha is moving into the battery electric vehicle space by introducing a scooter into Asian markets.
Prototypes of the EC-03 were revealed last year, but in the press release linked below, Yamaha confirms that these scooters will make their debut in Japan this summer. In the next year or two, they will also be offered in Taiwan, due to a program offered by the Taiwanese government to help popularize electric scooters, and in Europe, where progress is being made in preparing a charging infrastructure for electric cars that could also be used by scooters.
Given that Indian and Chinese electric scooter manufacturers have a significant lead in the electric scooter market, it will be interesting to see if the established Japanese scooter / motorcycle manufacturers like Yamaha, Susuki and Honda can catch up, or end up merging with them.
The Yamaha HV-X hybrid motorcycle strikes me as a very viable product, depending on the price premium. I would expect established motorcycle manufacturers to start at the high end, where electric motorcycle manufacturers are only starting to catch on, rather than try to break into the electric scooter market that's well established. At this point, perhaps they should be partnering with or acquiring Brammo, Zero Motorcycles and Mavizen, then slowly moving down market with higher performance vehicles.
[Source: Press Release]