Kawasaki testing electric powertrain on Ninja mule

Over the past few years, growing concers over the environment have motivated motorcycle manufacturers to go green and develop motorcycles powered by alternate fuel sources as opposed to fossil fuel-guzzling machines. 

Who can blame them? The European Union has been imposing more stringent emissions protocols every couple of years. India – the world's largest motorcycle market – will phase out small gas-powered motorcycles by 2025.

Kawasaki is doing their part by ramping up development of their next-generation electric motorcycle, alongside their supercharged engines, which could be available soon, real soon.

Dubbed as the Endeavor, the new electric powertrain being developed was fitted to a Ninja platform as a test mule. Some sleuths may recognize this as a Ninja 400 body. However, this is not an indication that it will look like a Ninja 400 once launched.

Ninja test mule

In the automotive industry, when manufacturers are testing new engines and powertrains, they are often fitted onto existing platforms and models (like the Ninja 400). They call these 'test mules'. The idea is to fit a new engine onto an existing model platform to save costs, gauge its compatibility with the existing chassis, and thoroughly test the powertrain before making adjustments and, eventually, its own bespoke platform and chassis.

Kawasaki developing

What we know

Though the full details are still shrouded in secrecy, Kawasaki revealed it's paired to a 4-speed gearbox, possibly to increase the torque output of a small and efficient electric motor.

Also in the video, the electric motorcycle being developed is equipped with a “thumb brake-activated energy recovery system.” From what we understood, it is a push lever to recover some energy generated while by the motorcycle's back torque during braking or deceleration. This energy will be used to recharge the battery.

Kawasaki developing

Kawasaki engineers have also opted for a chain final drive as opposed to a traditional belt final drive found in most, if not all, electric motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson Livewire.

Kawasaki has not given any launch date. However, they have hinted that we may see some of this technology on future models. Could Kawasaki be planning transition models, like hybrids? It's still too soon to tell.

Kawasaki developing

Electric alliance

It is also worth noting that Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, and Kawasaki, have formed an alliance to work out the standardization of batteries, recharging systems, and other aspects of their planned electric two-wheelers. This joint task force may also result in the sharing of battery specs and charging facilities.

It may not be a far-fetched reality that in 10 years time, we'll be seeing more e-motorcycles from the “Big 4” roaming our streets, and even on the racetrack. Best of all, some of their parts, like batteries and charging stations, may even be compatible with each other.