The electric-powered version of the Honda Super Cub is slated to go into production in 2018, according to the company's new President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo. First introduced as a concept model in 2009, it will be initially offered only in Japan, before expanding to several Asian markets.
Honda's Super Cub hardly needs an introduction, being one of the most popular two-wheelers ever produced. Since 1958 over 87 million Cubs have rolled out of as many as 15 different Honda factories all over the world. Its impact has been so great that it became the first vehicle to obtain three-dimensional trademark registration in Japan.
The electric-powered Cub first appeared as a concept model at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, showcasing two-wheel drive with electric motors in each hub. It resurfaced last October at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, this time with a single electric motor in the rear wheel hub.
With a styling that pays obvious homage to the iconic 1958 model, the EV-Cub is a precise replica of the 2015 Super Cub concept; a version that appears closer to what an actual production model would look like. Along with the front wheel hub motor, gone is the LED lightshow of the 2009 concept. The battery pack is mounted low in the frame, and is removable via a tilting cover on the left side of the bike.
Effectively the EV-Cub appears to be little more than a city commuter with relatively small range and performance figures in the original 50 cc Super Cub's ballpark – but without any official specs in hand, we're just speculating.
If Honda were to produce it now, it would probably employ the powertrain of the only electric scooter in the company's lineup, the EV-Neo. Powered by a 0.9 kWh battery, it peaks at 3.8 hp (2.8 kW) for a range of 34 km (21.1 mi) at 30 km/h (18.6 mph) on level ground. Hopefully Honda will opt for a more potent package, given that by 2018 the EV-Neo's technology will be almost 10 years old.
Little else is known at this time, except for what Honda's CEO announced. The EV-Cub is planned to go into production in two years' time, initially to be offered exclusively for the Japanese market. The next target sees the main ASEAN (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations) markets, a corner of the globe where the Cub family is extremely popular.
There's no word on whether Honda would consider exporting to other markets later, but we wouldn't bet against this option. The Super Cub is a global celebrity and, should market conditions allow for it, we cannot imagine why Honda would miss out on the opportunity. At least in the USA, such a move would make a lot of sense with a customer base that is more accustomed to electric motorcycles – as opposed to the European markets, where electric mobility and its associated infrastructure are now taking their first baby steps. Of course, a lot can change in a few years.