Bikes

2023 Honda EM1 e:

Honda’s new EM1 e: scooter is part of the company’s plans to release 10 new electric models in the next couple of years. (Honda/)

Honda unveiled its first European-market electric scooter at EICMA earlier this month in the form of the EM1 e:, and while detailed specifications have yet to be announced it might turn out to be unexpectedly inexpensive.

Why? Because the EM1 e: (yes, the colon after the final “e” is part of the name) is based on an existing scooter made in China by the Wuyang-Honda joint venture. Over there, it’s called the U-Go, but apart from the stickers on the side, the two machines are all but indistinguishable from the outside.

There are, however, technical differences. Most notably, the EM1 e: features Honda’s Mobile Power Pack e: swappable battery, already used in some Japanese-market models and intended to be the building brick of a battery-swap infrastructure that will extend across multiple Hondas and perhaps even other brands. Honda is part of two consortia of manufacturers establishing a standardized swappable motorcycle battery. The Japanese consortium includes Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki, while the European version’s members include Piaggio, Yamaha, KTM, and Honda. As such, the MPP e: battery is well positioned to be the basis of a swappable standard used across all those companies in the future.

A view inside the battery compartment.

A view inside the battery compartment. (Honda/)

In contrast, the Chinese Wuyang-Honda U-Go has a different battery design, although still swappable and with a similar capacity: 48V and 30Ah for the Chinese scooter, and then 50.26V and 26.1Ah for the MPP e:. For the European market EM1 e:, Honda is claiming a range of “more than 40 kilometers” (that’s only 25 miles), while the U-Go has a quoted range of up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) with a single battery, or double that distance when two batteries are fitted. It’s not known whether there will be a dual-battery option for the EM1 e:.

A view of the battery next to the scooter for scale.

A view of the battery next to the scooter for scale. (Honda/)

The electric motor used on the EM1 e: looks identical to the U-Go’s, a hub-mounted unit that in the Chinese bike is rated at 1,200W (1.6 hp), with a peak of 1,800W (2.4 hp). That’s not a lot, admittedly, but enough for a top speed of 33 mph. In Europe, the EM1 e: is expected to operate in the moped class, restricted to a top speed of 28 mph by law. Other specs that are likely to be similar between the EM1 e: and U-Go include the weight, with the Chinese bike weighing in at 183 pounds including battery. The physical dimensions, a length of 67.7 inches, a width of 26.8 inches, and a height of 42.5 inches, are also likely to be unchanged.

However, perhaps the most intriguing number attached to the Chinese-market Wuyang-Honda U-Go is its price; it costs the equivalent of $1,050. Remarkably, it’s the most expensive of a range of electric scooters/bikes that the firm offers there, with the most affordable starting at the equivalent of just $500. Inevitably, the EM1 e: with its more sophisticated MPP e: battery will be more expensive, but given the large number of components it shares with the U-Go it might be cheaper than you’d expect for a Honda-branded electric scooter.

This is just the start of Honda’s plan to launch at least 10 new electric bikes globally by 2025. The EM1 e: is due to reach production in mid-2023, so full details and specifications will come soon, but the machine will target Europe, Asia, Japan, and China. Over the following year or so, Honda will launch additional electric bikes including three significantly higher-performance electric motorcycles which will definitely come to the US market in 2024 to 2025.

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