The future is electric … or maybe it isn't

The days of petrol motorbikes could be limited after the Government launched a consultation to stop selling them by 2035.

It follows the 2030 deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK.

The plans are part of the Government’s Net Zero strategy, which aims to remove all carbon emissions from transport by 2050. It also encourages people to do short journeys by bicycle or on foot.

So what are our brands doing about electric power?

  • Kawasaki could unveil two production electric bikes later this year. The naked and faired 125 equivalents could be called Ninja E2 and Ninja E2-R as it has trademarked both names. It is also developing hybrid petrol-electric bikes and looking at powering models with a hydrogen fuel cell.
  • KTM already has a Freeride EX-C enduro bike and is working on an electrified e-Duke.
  • Suzuki is said to be close to launching a Burgman electric scooter as its first plug-in model.

The Government proposals are still in the consultation stage but Orwell director Dave Willis believes petrol power can exist alongside electric motorbikes.

“I think smaller-capacity bikes, up to 125, will go electric and why not in the scooter-commuter market?

“I’m not sure bigger bikes will. I think bigger bikes will either switch to synthetic fuel or hydrogen fuel cell.

“There’s a place for all for them.”

Hydrogen fuel cell technology sees hydrogen react with oxygen across an electrochemical cell, similar to a battery, to produce electricity. It also produces some harmless water and a little heat.

Synthetic fuel, petrol or diesel, can be created by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or industrial plants. While CO2 emissions from the vehicle are comparable to fossil fuels, taking large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to produce it offsets vehicle tailpipe emissions.

Dave could see the different power sources working together for motorbikes, most of which do not cover high annual mileage.

“With many motorcyclists having more than one bike, they could have a small electric one for short trips and a bigger one, running on synthetic fuel, for longer journeys.