Team Green gets greener: Kawasaki boss reveals new models and carbon neutrality plans at Milan show

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Kawasaki are moving rapidly towards a greener future, revealing a second small-capacity electric concept alongside a new hybrid prototype at the Eicma trade show in Milan.

In a presentation chaired by company President, Mr Hiroshi Ito, the Japanese firm lifted the lid on a new Ninja-styled battery model, which will join a plug-in naked Zed concept teased at the Intermot show back in October as part of the firm’s 2023 range.

Information on both bikes remains limited (we don’t even know what they will be called…) but, as previously speculated by MCN, they will be compliant with the A1 licence class and feature a max battery capacity of 3kWh.

Kawasaki Ninja EV project

Appearing to share similar dimensions to the firm’s petrol powered, single-cylinder Ninja 125 and Z125 models, we would expect an accessible seat height of around 785mm, plus conventional non-adjustable forks and a preload-adjustable monoshock.

The new fully-faired model also features relaxed set bars for comfort in use and a front nose reminiscent of the parallel twin Ninja 650.

But it wasn’t just battery bikes grabbing showgoers’ attention, with Mr Ito also revealing the first European preview of a new hybrid prototype – previously teased in Japan earlier this year.

Kawasaki Z125 EV

Wearing the letters HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) down its side fairing, the bike can switch between an electric and combustion motor and is the first hybrid prototype from Kawasaki. It’s planned to join the model range in 2024.

Details remain limited, but MCN understands it’s based on the parallel twin engine from either the Ninja 250 or recently revived Ninja 400 but also equipped with a large electric motor mounted above the gearbox and connected to the transmission via a clutch.

It does appear to be slightly longer than the conventional petrol Ninja 400, with tweaks to the bodywork to help shroud the new technology.

Kawasaki hybrid right side

Part of a new ‘Go with Green Power’ initiative established by the brand to reach a goal of carbon neutrality, there was also another experimental hydrogen engine on display.

This is based on the supercharged unit from the four-cylinder Ninja H2 and uses direct injection and compressed gaseous hydrogen for propulsion. A tantalising prospect, we will bring you more details as they become available.

But it’s not all about hybrids and experimental EVs, with the supercharged Ninja H2 SX sports tourer also getting an update for 2023. It may look largely the same as before, but it now gets front and rear radar sensors as standard – enabling the use of active cruise control systems, plus blind spot detection. There’s also auto high beam for the lazier riders amongst us.

Kawasaki hybrid engine

Beyond the tide of alternative fuel options revealed, Mr Ito also committed to plans for 30 new internal combustion-powered bikes for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, with around half of these heading to European markets.