26 November 2020 Kawasaki shares 2021 models and corporate highlights

Despite the global pandemic and facing the reality of forgoing a physical presence at major motorcycle shows in 2020, Kawasaki predictably had a lot to share on 23 November as the wraps came off the final new machines unveiled for the European market in the coming year.

General Manager of the Marketing & Sales Division of Kawasaki in Akashi, Japan, Masanori Inoue spoke of the company’s sympathy for all those affected by the pandemic promising that this temporary yet significant setback would not halt an ambitious corporate vision for the future and some exciting new concepts currently in development.

As a ‘next stage’ thought, following the debut of a two-wheeled electric vehicle at the EICMA show of 2019, the possibilities of hybrid technology are now being explored, explained Mr. Inoue. Already having considerable battery expertise within the Kawasaki group thanks to products such as the scalable Gigacell nickel-metal hydride battery research being carried out for trams and other public transport vehicles in Japan a successful Gigacell application in the form of an all-electric tram is already in use on the streets of Sapporo. Whilst the eventual electric power source for a hybrid is still under discussion, the internal problem-solving capacity of such a diverse company is immense.  

Allied to this electric power potential, the Akashi factory has now combined both clean running gasoline engine technology with potential of zero emission battery power to create a two-wheeled hybrid concept. Aimed at short to middle distance commuters, the concept expects users to ride under gasoline power to the outskirts of the city then continue their commute by switching to electric-only power. Addressing the contemporary issues of overall electric vehicle range and the trend for many cities across the world to declare zero emission credentials, the new hybrid two-wheeler is still at an early stage but illustrates well the diversity of Kawasaki research into emerging vehicle systems.

From a control point of view –and taking the already familiar Rideology philosophy to the next kevel – Kawasaki also announced big steps in its plan to explore Artificial Intelligence in terms of rider and machine interactivity. Already at a trial stage in Japan among a select group of Kawasaki enthusiasts, the AI concept is harnessing an in-helmet voice activated interface with the motorcycle allowing the rider to use voice commands to check things like vehicle status in terms of fuel load and range as well as more general yet useful items such as the destination weather situation and predicted traffic density along the planned route. Whilst there is still a long way to go, Kawasaki is keen to highlight that the future is not simply about developing current motorcycle styles and technologies but also adapting or creating new technologies to make the riding and ownership experience yet more rewarding.

As a counterpoint to two wheeled ideas, the company also showed an autonomous four wheeled MULE utility vehicle able to “drive itself”. With many potential commercial applications in terms of use by emergency services and in extreme environments, the self-driving MULE showed that the R&D department is seeing future technology potential within the diverse range of products being offered by Kawasaki both now and in the future and is 100% focused on continuing to deliver Good Times.    

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