Want an electric two-wheeler, but scared you’ll run out of battery range? Yamaha might have what you need, with patented plans for a new hybrid scooter, with gas/electric powertrain, sort of.
As environmental regulators and other useful people work on promoting vehicles powered by alternative energy, the motorcycle industry is constantly developing new ideas to fit into the updated emissions rules. The OEMs would probably be very happy to just build electric motorcycles and scooters and be done with it, avoiding future hassles over tailpipe emissions. Problem is, electric two-wheelers still struggle with limited battery range and excessive recharging times, and they’re still very expensive.
Now, there’s a new set of patent drawings floating around the Interwebz, showing Yamaha’s once again dusted off the idea of building a hybrid scooter, using both gasoline engine and electric motor. The vehicle would be powered by an electric motor, with no direct connection between the gasoline engine and the ground. Instead, the gasoline engine would basically work as a generator, cranking energy back into the scooter’s battery.
There are a few advantages to this design, over a standard electric-only design. First, it addresses the problem of range anxiety; you won’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no way to recharge your scoot, if the battery dies. Second, because the gasoline motor is only used to recharge the battery, it can be set to run extremely efficiently, optimizing gasoline usage and minimizing exhaust emissions. Third, it also potentially skirts legislation banning gasoline-powered vehicles, as it’s technically got an electric motor putting power to the ground.
That’s all very clever, but there are two potential problems with the design. The first is: Including both a gas engine and electric motor means the machine will cost more money. Complexity always ramps up the cost. Second, it’s also going to be heavier, with all the added equipment on board.
Of course, that’s why Yamaha has Top Men working on it, to figure all this stuff out. We’ll see if it goes anywhere in the months and years ahead, as the industry is certainly being pushed towards alternative energy, whether it likes it or not.