Patent drawings filed late in 2014 seem to indicate there’s an electric Kawasaki Ninja coming in the future.
The move might be surprising to some, but it shouldn’t be. Kawasaki has long held up a tradition of flashy bikes with lots of zip – last summer’s H2R is a good example. The original H2 two-stroke, the Z1 900, the GPZ900 Ninja – all these bikes were lightning-fast and highly coveted in their day.
Now, it seems Team Green has decided to jump into the electric bike business. It makes sense – off the line, nothing beats a battery bike. However, for whatever reason, it’s a market the Japanese manufacturers have long steered clear of. Sure, we’ve seen concept bikes (particular the Tokyo shows), and Honda’s friends at Mugen have raced an electric bike at the Isle of Man for quite some time, but Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki have all seemed to shy away from embracing the concept of electric motorcycles.
Yamaha claims their PED1 and PES concepts will make it to market in some form in the future, and KTM has released the electric Freeride bikes, and BMW has their battery-powered maxi-scooter, the C Evolution. However, no Japanese manufacturer has an electric motorcycle in the lineup right now – even Harley-Davidson has made a bigger splash in that market, with their Livewire concept bike.
An electric Ninja, therefore, would be a huge market disruptor. The Ninja name still has plenty of cachet; younger riders want ’em, and insurance companies hate ’em. An electric Ninja could be a huge hit, if it has plenty of power, and that’s what sportbike fans want. If Kawasaki brings out a bike that combines range, power and decent price point (current electric bike offerings are lucky to even offer two of those choices), they could carve themselves out a nice piece of the battery bike market – a market that’s only going to grow in the future.
As for the drawings themselves (we spotted them on Visordown); the drawings seem to show a sportbike with an easily-removable battery pack. That could get around the problem of extending the bike’s range. Easily swappable batteries mean easy recharging, and if Kawasaki figures that out, they might have the machine that future battery bikes are patterned after.