Don't worry, the brands will still be fighting it out on the track. This deal only affects Japan's shrinking scooter segment.

Changing market conditions are forcing longtime rivals Honda and Yamaha to consider partnering on shared scooter development. According to a joint announcement by the companies, they might cooperate on models with 50-cubic-centimeter engine and possibly even electric models for the Japanese market. Nothing is certain yet, but the firms’ press release is clear that they “have begun discussions toward a possible business alliance.”

Honda scooters
Honda scooters
Honda scooters

The cooperation would take place under a multi-part plan that would start with Honda supplying its 50-cc Tact (above left) and Giorno (center) scooters to Yamaha before 2018. The company would rebadge them as the Jog and Vino. The pair would then look at co-developing a shared replacement for the Honda Benly (right) and Yamaha Gear models.

Finally, the businesses would begin co-developing an electric scooter with a focus on optimizing range, charging time, performance, and cost. They would also consider involving other motorcycle makers in the project.

“We believe that our collaborative activities, which will start with an OEM alliance, will go beyond the framework of a mere product supply alliance and carve out a future motorcycle culture in Japan,” Yamaha Motor Co. Managing Executive Officer and Director Katsuaki Watanabe said in the announcement.

Both firms see the market shrinking in Japan for small-displacement bikes. In addition, it is becoming more expensive to keep up with tightening environmental standards. “Honda and Yamaha arrived at a common understanding that cooperation is necessary to address these challenges for the future,” the companies said in their joint announcement.

The entire cycle market in Japan is far smaller than in the past. According to Reuters, there were 1.2 million motorcycle and scooter deliveries there in fiscal year 1995. By last year, the number had dropped to just 373,000.

This deal makes no mention of regions outside Japan for any of these models. However as electric bikes become more common, they might benefit from looking abroad.

Source: Reuters, Honda

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