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.”
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
Honda scooter examples
Honda and Yamaha Begin Discussion of Possible Collaboration in the Area of Small-sized Scooters in the
TOKYO, Japan, October 5, 2016 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that the two companies have begun discussions toward a possible business alliance in the Japanese market in the “Class-1 category*” which include scooters with a 50 cc engine or electric motor.
As a result of the diversification of the types of short-range transportation, including power-assisted bicycles and mini-vehicles, the market for the Class-1 category vehicles in Japan has been shrinking in recent years. Moreover, motorcycle manufacturers are facing various challenges including compliance with safety standards and emissions regulations that will become more stringent in future years, as well as the pursuit of product electrification.
Under such circumstances, Honda and Yamaha arrived at a common understanding that cooperation is necessary to address these challenges for the future and based on this understanding, the two companies will strive to realize collaboration in the Japanese market in the Class-1 category.
*The Class-1 category: A category defined by the Road Vehicles Act of Japan as “vehicles equipped with two or more wheels and an engine with total displacement of 50 cc or less or an electric motor with rated output of 0.60 kW or less.”
＜Key plans to be discussed toward collaboration＞
1. Supplying 50 cc scooter models as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer)
With a target timetable of before the end of 2018, Honda would begin supplying 50 cc scooter models to Yamaha as an OEM that are developed based on the Honda TACT and Giorno, 50 cc scooter models Honda currently produces and sells in Japan. Yamaha will sell these models as corresponding models of the Yamaha JOG and Vino.
2. Joint development/OEM supply of next-generation 50 cc business scooter models
Honda and Yamaha are currently developing, producing and selling 50 cc business scooter models for the Japanese market, namely the Honda BENLY and Yamaha GEAR, respectively. The two companies will look into the feasibility of the joint development and OEM supply from Honda to Yamaha of a next-generation version of these business scooter models.
3. Collaboration toward the popularization of electric motorcycles in the Class-1 category
For the purpose of further popularizing electric motorcycles mainly in the Class-1 category in Japan, the two companies will look into possible collaboration in the area of establishing the foundation necessary to address various issues relevant to electric motorcycles such as range, charging time, performance and cost. By broadly sharing the achievement of such collaboration with other motorcycle manufacturers and relevant industries in the form of proposals, the two companies will strive to further facilitate the electrification of motorcycle products.
With these future collaborative efforts, Honda and Yamaha will strive to make people’s lives more enjoyable through Class-1 category vehicles, which are accessible and a user-friendly means of transportation for many people. Moreover, the two companies will work toward the further revitalization of the Japanese motorcycle market.
＜Comment by Shinji Aoyama/Operating Officer and Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.＞
“Through this collaboration with Yamaha, we will continue to offer Class-1 category products that go beyond the expectations of our customers. With that, we will devote all of our efforts to revitalize the motorcycle market in Japan and establish a market environment that enables the popularization of electric motorcycles at the earliest possible timing.”
＜Comment by Katsuaki Watanabe/Managing Executive Officer and Director, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.＞
“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.”