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Honda working on petrol/electric hybrid

Honda is developing a hybrid motorcycle, with both a conventional petrol engine and electric motors connected to a common transmission. Hybrid cars are a common sight, ostensibly offering the combination of zero emissions in urban areas and a long range out of town, but very few powered two-wheelers have gone hybrid, thanks to the extra weight, bulk and expense. Piaggio sold a petrol/electric MP3 scooter in the 2009/10, while Kawasaki is due to launch its HEV (400cc Ninja twin with an electric motor) next year.

Honda’s project looks to be some way off production, but according to the patent application, combined petrol and electric powertrains with an epicyclic gearbox which allows a choice of riding modes, with purely petrol, or electric, or a combination of both, plus the added attraction of a pushbutton gearchange. Unusually, the patent application also describes two electric motors, one geared direct to the front sprocket, the other via the gearbox.

In pure electric mode, the second motor drives the bike’s rear wheel as with a pure electric machine. In ‘eCVT’ mode, the bike is a twist & go, blending power from the engine and electric motors as needed. There’s also a geared mode, still using both petrol and electric power, but with four fixed ratios selectable by the rider. Finally, the petrol engine can be used to recharge the battery, either when stationary or in eCVT mode.

It sounds complicated, but a hybrid bike could be a means of allowing bigger machines to carry on riding in cities if/when petrol/diesel vehicles are banned from urban areas altogether.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “That does sound complicated. If anyone can make that work reliably I’d bet on Honda, the Italians may have done it already, but I know who I’d back in making tech work reliably. Mind you, anyone who mentions Jazz CVTs can go stand on the naughty step …”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Photo: Jewel Tom Mathew – Pixabay