Spied! Patent shows a Suzuki hybrid motorcycle

Suzuki’s playing it safe these days, but a recently-unearthed patent shows there might be some life at the company yet. Turns out, Suzuki is working on a hybrid motorcycle design, with electric and gasoline-powered drivetrain. 

When it comes to product development, Suzuki’s been quiet, the past few years—really, really quiet. Except for the new GSX-R1000 series, the company’s new releases have been warmed-over designs from the early 2000s, or the late 1990s. Or, in the case of the VanVan 200, the late 1980s. Yikes.

It’s strange, because Suzuki opened a brand-new mega-factory a few months back, and that would have been the perfect time to introduce a new motorcycle design, or designs. Not to mention, with emissions standards constantly tightening, you’d think the V-Strom 1000, DR650 and SV650 engines would be about to be unsellable, thanks to regulations … so why isn’t Suzuki working on electric motorcycles?

Turns out the company is. Recently, one of the bigwigs in Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary told that country’s moto-press that Suzuki has the technology to build electric motorcycles, but the market isn’t ready for battery bikes, as they’re still too expensive. This recently-unearthed patent backs up those comments (we spotted it on Visordown). If it’s accurate, it shows Suzuki is designing a motorcycle with both gasoline-powered and electric motors.

It’s a clever design, with an electric motor that functions as the bike’s main powerplant. The bike can be configured with a massive under-seat battery that provides juice to the electric motor. The rider can remove that battery and install a gasoline engine that can also power the electric motor.

There are obvious inefficiencies to such a system, but it would solve the question of extending your electric motorcycle’s range. If you plan to ride farther than the battery allows, you would use the gasoline-powered motor to do so. This could be especially useful in developing countries, where the power grid could be non-existent, or too weak to support a high-powered electric motorcycle.

But, is it a feasible design? Again, the inherent inefficiencies in the design mean the bike would likely have power loss between the gasoline and electric powerplants, and it would also likely be expensive. There’s also more to go wrong, with multiple systems running here. However, Suzuki’s hydrogen-powered Burgman project seems to have gone nowhere, so maybe this is the way forward for the company? Remember, a patent is no guarantee of production, and Suzuki has teased us plenty with exciting new models, then taken them away (remember the turbocharged Recursion concept, or the six-cylinder Stratosphere?).

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