Honda has finally added electric propulsion to one of its most enduring and successful commuter vehicles - the Japan-only three-wheeled scooter. Used extensively throughout Japan's congested urban environment as a commuter and delivery vehicle with a 50cc four-stroke motor, the Honda Canopy (aka Gyro) delivers 100 mpg. Converting the well-protected three wheeler, with its capacious cargo space, to an electric-only vehicle is a no-brainer and is certain to create an insatiable demand in non-domestic markets everywhere.

To say the Gyro/Canopy is the most common road vehicle in Tokyo, the world's largest and most congested urban area, is no exaggeration. The frugal 50cc engine enjoys a tax break in Japan, and in a city where vehicles rarely get near the speed limits, is more than powerful enough to get the job done. Equally interesting is the array of boxes built onto the platform, some of which offer enough carrying capacity to fit a small third world country.

It's a monumental sales success in Japan and has been produced in one form or another for 28 years, with the actual Gyro model now in production for 27 years. Now we're not party to who owns what in this area, but our understanding is that the three-wheeled design was patented in the UK in 1966 and first marketed as the BSA Ariel 3 in 1970.

We believe the patented three-wheeled design was subsequently licensed to Honda, though it has been copied extensively, particularly in China (most notably as the Xingyue but there appear to be numerous copies) and a very similar two-wheeled version of the layout has been employed by BMW, first as the C3, and more recently as the BMW C1-E concept scooter.

In Japan, the fully-enclosed gas-powered scooter sells for less than US$3500, and can be purchased naked or fully enclosed and is designed like a cab-chassis utility, to be fitted with an aftermarket rear section suitable for your line of business.

To say the Gyro/Canopy is the most common road vehicle in Tokyo, the world's largest and most congested urban area, is no exaggeration. The frugal 50cc engine enjoys a tax break in Japan, and in a city where vehicles rarely get near the speed limits, is more than powerful enough to get the job done. Equally interesting is the array of boxes built onto the platform, some of which offer enough carrying capacity to fit a small third world country. It's a monumental sales success in Japan and has been produced in one form or another for 30 years.

The two rear wheels of the Canopy/gyro offer additional stability at low speeds, and Honda's E-CANOPY will also use a CVT transmission.

When I wrote up the Gyro/Canopy two years ago, I concluded "Could Honda be striving to build new and better machinery for emerging markets when indeed it has a 30-year-old killer app already in the garage?"

As F Troop's Corporal Agarn used to say, "who says I'm dumb?"

It's only a "concept" at this stage, and will be seen at the Tokyo Motor Show in three weeks time, but I'll be the family jewels it'll see production!