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Honda's electric Canopy (Gyro) 3-wheeler

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November 10, 2011

Honda's electric Canopy (Gyro) 3-wheeler

Honda's electric Canopy (Gyro) 3-wheeler

Image Gallery (13 images)

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.

An example of a Canopy (aka Gyro) 50cc delivery vehicle on Tokyo streets

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.

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.

Honda's E-CANOPY

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!

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
3 Comments

I had to give up my disability scooter recently; I'd previously considered myself VERY mobile, having driven most types of vehicles in the UK, US and NZ (I once drove across America in five days). It looks as if I'll be dependent on others from now on. I wish I'd known about this when the decision was made to ground me - I'd have felt there might still be some hope for me to rejoin the many madding motorists!

Gordon McShean
11th November, 2011 @ 01:46 pm PST

I've always thought it was a no-brainer to make a tilting cab version of the Piaggio APE, which could be serious competition to the Gyro.

William H Lanteigne
12th November, 2011 @ 09:01 am PST

I've always wondered why a top wasn't added to a bike. With the rains we get here in Florida, weather protection is a must. Also, for safety, why isn't some type of belt added that would keep the rider with the bike? Just this past weekend a friend of my oldest son learned her father had been nearly killed on his Harley when someone turned in front of him. He was thrown quite a way from the bike and now is suffering from many broken bones and some paralysis. If he had been able to stay on the bike, the injuries probably would have been much less serious. A side impact bar of some sort would also help - a friend of mine lost a leg when someone ran a stop sign and hit the bike squarely in the side! Safety FIRST!

Dale Whitworth
15th November, 2011 @ 11:35 pm PST
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