December 19, 2008 Honda has been quick to signal some radical changes in direction to enable it to endure the tough times expected in 2009. Following news that it is cancelling all F1 racing involvement and development, and likewise with the successor to the NSX sports car, the company has announced it intends to pursue ever cleaner automotive technologies and the most exciting of its announcements is that it will have an electric motorcycle on the market before the end of 2010. Honda’s original core product was the motorcycle and history shows that motorcycle sales remain strong in difficult times – the Honda announcement of an electric motorcycle is likely to spur rivals Yamaha and Suzuki into action, with both having shown fantastic electric bikes already, and both afraid to give Honda a head start in what will surely be a massive market.
With more people likely to show interest in the motorcycle in a harsh economic climate, Honda plans for a game-changing electric motorcycle are the signal that the era of the electric motorcycle is about to begin – Honda’s brief statement pointed out that the characteristics of electric power can be better utilized in the area of motorcycles, which are often used for short distance travel.
Honda's toughness in negative business environments comes from its almost recession-proof motorcycle business. The motorcycle business has since given way to a global business foundation around three axes - motorcycles, automobiles and power products – but Honda knows it can rely on its original core product and the cost-efficiency of a plug-in electric bike could attract a huge new customer segment, particularly in the emerging emerging economic regions of Asia and South America. Motorcycles are replacing bicycles for everyday transportation in these markets, and long-term and steady market growth is expected for the motorcycle business despite the economic conditions.