Honda Initiates Yearlong Public Trial for EV-neo Scooter in Barcelona

June 28th, 2011 BY njkaters | No Comments
Honda EV_neo_Barcelona

The electric scooter could be an important tool for automakers in promoting zero-emissions vehicles throughout the world. Urban dwellers in Western Europe, Asia and Latin America often use scooters because of their size, cost and fuel economy. This assessment of the scooter market encouraged Honda to initiate a year-long trial of the EV-neo scooter in Barcelona. The EV-neo scooter trial begins next month with the help of the Barcelona City Council, Montesa Honda and RACC. The Barcelona City Council will receive 18 EV-neo units from Honda with Montesa Honda and RACC providing maintenance and research support over the next year.

Honda’s EV-neo provides sufficient power, speed and performance to meet the needs of city drivers. This all-electric scooter is powered by a 2.8kW Honda electric motor as well as a 0.9kWh lithium-ion battery by Toshiba. The automaker claims that the EV-neo can reach a top speed of 19 miles per hour on flat ground. EV-neo users would be able to travel up to 21 miles per charge. The scooter’s quick-charge unit ensures that the battery is recharged fully within 30 minutes using a 200-volt outlet. Honda includes a standard charger compatible with all outlets that recharges the battery fully in less than four hours.

Barcelona offers an ideal backdrop for Honda to test the EV-neo for the European market. The city currently offers incentives for battery-electric vehicles including free EV parking and significant cuts to vehicle licensing fees. Vehicle registration figures indicate that 30% of registered vehicles in Barcelona are classified as motorcycles. The $5,627 price tag for a leased EV-neo might be a bit steep for many but this price should decline with higher production volumes. This built-in market for scooters along with modest incentives for EVs could put Honda ahead of European brands in the search for early adopters. The key for the Barcelona City Council and Honda is to create educational components that aggressively promote the EV-neo.

The Honda EV-neo will not be new to the road when the Barcelona trial starts next month. Honda began leasing the scooter in Japan this April with end-of-year estimates at 1,000 units leased. The Honda Electric Vehicle Testing Program currently running in Kumamoto and Saitama Prefectures uses EV-neo among other all-electric vehicles. Residents and out-of-towners in Kumamoto can rent an EV-neo through local dealers while providing journals of their experiences. Honda has worked with parcel companies in Saitama to deliver small packages using the EV-neo. The strategy for Honda is to leverage demand for scooters in Europe and Japan while slowly unveiling a zero-emission model. This slow but steady approach could displace thousands of standard scooters even as city dwellers looking to replace their gas-guzzling cars and trucks.