View Full Version : Whatever happened to the Japanese manufacturers?

10 December 2010, 1626
I have wondered what the Japanese motorcycle manufactures are up to. They have the manufacturing capabilities, the existing motorcycle chassis, the distributing networks, the technical staff, the resources and the potential connections in Japan to produce an electric motorcycle. You would think that at least one of these manufacturers, such as Honda, would give it a try - besides fooling around with slow-speed city scooter styling concepts.

Maybe this is the answer: I just read in the January 2011 issue of Cycle World that the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are putting their resources into the Third-World commuter markets in India, China and Southeast Asia. Apparently they are all looking for volume sales and expanding their presence in emerging markets, perhaps looking toward the future of transportation in these countries. The word is that they are moving away from investing in the US and European markets and letting the European manufacturers take a larger share of these markets with their higher-end products. Of course the Europeans are concentrating on improving their IC motorcycles, with an emphasis on electronic control advances, rather than electric vehicles (to my knowledge).

10 December 2010, 2101
Exccept for Brammo, Native, Zero, and other US electric motorcycle companies. Honda maybe waiting for Brammo and others to actually be making money in addition to the current business plan you presented. Even better is if the Euros stay out of the elmoto business, it gives the US manufactures a better chance to become the dominant players. The Euro are going after electric cars. They are just now getting into the hybrid business. Lets hope they stay with the 4 wheelers.

11 December 2010, 0606
I think most of the issue is the American market, and all that it entails. I had a long conversation with a local dealer about this, and he was saying that because of the collapse of the market in the US overall, for everybody, plus the additional impact of the tariffs imposed on Japanese manufacturers, the Japanese companies were basically walking away from the US market. Now, I don't really know what he was talking about specifically as far as tariffs go - I wasn't aware that there were tariffs that applied only to Japan that don't to Europe, but his observation was that he could sell a Ducati or Triumph for less than a similar, or lesser Yamaha or Honda as a result. ...and that essentially nothing was selling anyway.

The other part of the equation is the fact that nowhere has the electric motorcycle market proven itself... unlike the electric scooter market. The European and Far East market is a lot more solid for much lower power cycles, so electric scooters are an easier sell. See this post by the Motley Foo': http://www.fool.com/investing/high-growth/2010/11/24/were-focusing-on-the-wrong-electric-vehicle-market.aspx

That, and I see the big manufacturers as considerably more conservative. They're not going out on a limb to try to sell a new product that is an uphill battle especially when they're seeing their traditional products in trouble. By releasing electric concept vehicles they're sending a clear message they're interested in it all, but not ready to take the plunge. Rich, as far as the US companies goes, that actually proves the point. If Honda saw Brammo (or any of the others) taking the market by storm, it would be a different story, but, realistically, it hasn't happened yet. When it does, you can be sure they'll dust off their plans and swamp the market.

11 December 2010, 0838
When the gas prices soar, then electric motorcycles (and cars) will soar. Until then they will be for the hobbyist.

11 December 2010, 0939
That may not be the only factor in EV adoption. As soon as range reaches a practical level, people may ditch the high maintenance of gassers. The average rider doesn't care to be a motorcycle grease monkey nor take it into the shop for regular maintenance. People deal with it because they like to ride. Give buyers a practical, low maintenance alternative and you might be surprised at how quickly it can shift to EV.

11 December 2010, 1044
This doesn't surprise me at all. Why would a company invest in a country who's economy is shrinking, who's debt is exploding, who's own companies and financial investment systems have completely abandoned it, and who's middle class purchasing power is now no better than it was in 1968.
The Japanese manufacturers see the writing on the wall, and only have to look at their warehouses bloated with unsold non-current models.
It doesn't matter if it's electric or gas, a motorcycle in this country is a toy that the vast majority of people can't afford, now that they can no longer borrow against their homes to buy them.