Emerging Market Drivers Push Motorcycle OEMs to Increase Involvement in Electrification Efforts

In an article for GreenBiz, Guidehouse Insights says global e-motorcycle sales will grow from roughly 1.1 million units in 2020 to 3.6 million by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate of 14.4 percent

Although e-motorcycles have struggled to catch on as quickly as other electric two-wheel vehicles such as e-bikes and e-scooters due to challenges around battery technology and consumer acceptance, gas-powered motorcycle markets continue to decline because of an aging consumer base and an increasingly stringent regulatory environment.

In an article for GreenBiz, Ryan Citron, senior research analyst with Guidehouse Insights, says that as emissions standards become more stringent and bans on internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles are enacted, major motorcycle OEMs will need to pursue the only segment of the market that is consistently growing—e-motorcycles.

“Momentum behind e-motorcycles is building with the major manufacturers,” Citron said. “Several major OEMs are poised to release new models, including Harley-Davidson, Honda, and Yamaha.”

Despite increasing interest in North America and Europe, Guidehouse Insights estimates that 83 percent of all motorcycle sales are in the Asia Pacific region, where Honda and Yamaha lead the market. These companies are developing smaller and lower power electric two-wheelers, accounting for the majority of sales globally, and will likely achieve far greater sales volumes than Harley-Davidson over the next 10 years by designing electric two-wheelers for the enormous Asia Pacific market. 

Citron explained that battery swapping also will play a key role in accelerating e-motorcycle adoption. Recent industry-led partnerships in battery swap standardization are expected to reduce or eliminate market barriers around extended charging times, range anxiety, high upfront costs, and battery reliability because riders easily can carry and switch out batteries on the go.

“With a growing list of countries instituting relatively near-term timelines to outright ban the sale of gas-powered cars, it would be naive to think ICE motorcycles wouldn’t be banned simultaneously or soon thereafter,” Citron said. “While major motorcycle OEMs have played a small role in e-motorcycle product and technology development, they have little choice but to join the growing movement toward electrification if they want to stay in business.”

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