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Kawasaki Electric and Hybrid Prototypes Break Cover

OXP4S5PEIBCSHJRL3AC73WRFKINew near-production prototypes previewed in surprise demonstration at the Suzuka 8 Hour race in Japan.

Last year, Kawasaki revealed plans to electrify all of its motorcycles in developed markets by 2035, and also have at least 10 electric or hybrid models in the range by 2025. Now, late-stage prototypes for both types of powertrains have been revealed thanks to a surprise demonstration ahead of the Suzuka 8-Hour motorcycle race in Japan.


The hybrid is clearly more radical and the higher-performance bike of the two. Although Kawasaki has been hinting at its hybrid technology for a while, initially with teaser videos and then by showing a stripped-down prototype last October, the machine is clearly a lot closer to production. In addition to revisions to both the combustion engine and the electric part of the powertrain, it features bodywork that’s clearly much closer to production ready.PZLKLUKDFBEAVN7C5SXHWIBR4MThe combustion engine is based on the parallel-twin design used in the Ninja 250 and Ninja 400; although their internal dimensions are different, the two are externally identical. The latest prototype gained new castings for the engine covers on both sides, perhaps hinting at more changes within. All indications point to the fact that the bike uses the larger 399cc version of the twin from the Ninja 400 and Z400. Its exhaust system appears identical to the version on each of those bikes, with a longer muffler and slightly different downpipes compared to the 249cc Ninja 250/Z250 variant.

The presence of dual front disc brakes is another change from the 2021 prototype, which had a single petal-shaped disc, and further evidence that the bike uses the larger engine. Allied to a power boost from an electric motor, it could potentially have performance on a par with the larger, internal-combustion-only Ninja 650, which appears to have lent the hybrid its fork, front fender, and brake calipers.

The idea, of course, is that at low speeds, such as those that predominate in urban environments, the bike can travel on electric power alone, with no local emissions. Out of town, particularly on fuel-efficient constant-speed runs, the combustion engine can take the strain and top up the hybrid battery. And when maximum performance is needed, both electric and internal-combustion powertrains can work in unison to offer the best acceleration and top speed. In theory, the result should be a bike that uses less fuel than a conventional 400cc bike but has the performance to match a 650cc motorcycle.QOGVVNNO5VFSJEXOPYKIBU5I24Notable technical details on the prototype include an intake low down on the right side, running through a duct carrying the “Hybrid” logo. This likely cools the electric motor. On Kawasaki’s earlier prototype, the motor was liquid cooled, with a second radiator below the main water radiator at the front of the bike. While liquid cooling is still likely for the electric powertrain, it seems the radiator has been shifted to the rear, nearer the motor and out of sight behind the bodywork.VGYOKXTYPBBQJMDPANYHZEO2ZU