If you’re old enough to remember the original 1980s Honda Motocompo micro-motorcycle – or are like me and have enjoyed learning about it since – then today’s announcement from Honda will come with all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia, either earned or learned. The long-awaited spiritual successor to the Motocompo has just been unveiled, and this time it’s gone electric. Meet the Honda Motocompacto.
The original 1983 Honda Motocompo was a tiny little gasoline-powered motorcycle designed to fit in the trunk of small car and give drivers a way to extend their reach into a city.
Instead of driving all the way in, owners could park on the outskirts of a city, pop out their tiny motorcycle from their trunk, unfold it into something that was more or less comfortable to sit on, then ride anywhere in the city.
If you’re thinking that an oil-leaking, gasoline-burning motorcycle isn’t a great thing to keep in the trunk of a car, then you’re right.
That’s probably why the little bike was discontinued after only two years.
It’s also likely why when Honda brought the old idea back to life today, they did it with an electric drivetrain instead. Which if you’re an Electrek reader, probably won’t come as a complete surprise. We covered Honda’s trademarking of the Motocompacto name last year and surmised that this was the likely outcome.
Just don’t expect peak performance from the Honda Motocompacto. In fact, you’d be well-advised to not get your hopes up for even moderate performance. The tiny little folding scooter has an even tinier drivetrain. The front wheel motor measures 490W and the top speed is a mere 15 mph (25 km/h).
The battery is listed as “6.8Ah,” though it’s impossible to determine the actual battery capacity without any info on the system voltage. With either a 24V or 36V battery, that would mean a measly capacity of just 163 or 245 Wh, respectively.
Honda does give us an estimate range, though the “up to 12 miles” (20 km) isn’t very promising. But then again, this is an urban-centric motorbike and few people commute further than 12 miles in the heart of a city. A 110V charger can recharge that battery in 3.5 hours and there’s even room to store the charger on board, just in case you want to recharge in the office under your desk.
As Honda described it, “Motocompacto is perfect for getting around cityscapes and college campuses. It was designed with rider comfort and convenience in mind with a cushy seat, secure grip foot pegs, on-board storage, a digital speedometer, a charge gauge, and a comfortable carry handle. A clever phone app enables riders to adjust their personal settings, including lighting and ride modes, via Bluetooth.”
The Honda Motocompacto takes much of the same folding inspiration from the original Motocompo, including handlebars and seat that drop down into the body. With the folding footpegs, the little scooter is a mere 3.7 inches wide (9.4 cm) when fully stowed. In fact, it folds up into a package barely larger than a briefcase, measuring just 29 inches (73 cm) long and 21 inches (54 cm) high.
Fortunately the Motocompacto’s weight 41.3 lb. (18.7 kg) is just under half the weight of the original 1980s Motocompo, so it should be much easier to actually slide out of your hatchback.
It appears that Honda plans to sell the Motocompacto along with some of its electric vehicles, according to Jane Nakagawa, vice president of the R&D Business Unit at American Honda Motor Co., Inc.:
Motocompacto is uniquely Honda – a fun, innovative and unexpected facet of our larger electrification strategy. Sold in conjunction with our new all-electric SUVs, Motocompacto supports our goal of carbon neutrality by helping customers with end-to-end zero-emissions transport.
In practice though, it’s likely that few owners will actually treat it like a dinghy for their car in the same way that the original Motocompo was used. Instead, it’s probable that the Motocompacto will stand on its own as part of Honda’s small yet growing electric scooter and motorcycle lineup.
The bike sounds like it was designed as a primary vehicle, as explained by Nick Ziraldo, project lead and design engineering unit leader at Honda Development and Manufacturing of America:
Motocompacto is easy to use and fun to ride, but was also designed with safety, durability, and security in mind. It uses a robust heat-treated aluminum frame and wheels, bright LED headlight and taillight, side reflectors, and a welded steel lock loop on the kickstand that is compatible with most bike locks.
Now the only question is whether or not it will sell. Priced at US $995, sales will begin exclusively online and at Honda and Acura automobile dealers in November.
I’m about as pro-micromobility as anyone on the internet, but I’ll tell you right now that the coolest thing about the Honda Motocompacto is merely the fact that it exists. If you actually look at specs and pricing, there’s not too much to get worked up about.
Sure, Honda’s engineers can pull a muscle patting themselves on the back all day for bringing back the Motocompo, which is a really cool feat. But a thousand bucks for a briefcase with wheels? That’s a tough sell.
The original Motocompo was so incredible because it was the only thing like it – there just weren’t any other tiny motorbikes that could fit in a trunk. These days there are literally a thousand different electric scooters and mini e-bikes that can fold up to fit in a trunk and fulfill the same role as this thing. So ultimately, that means the only differentiator here is the design. And it IS a legitimately cool design. In fact, it looks awesome. The origami game is strong with this one. But I’d still rather ride a JackRabbit or a folding stand-up scooter if I’m looking for a serious micromobility for urban use. They’d fit in a car trunk just as well and would actually give better performance as well as bang-for-your buck.
But even after saying all that, I’m still going to be tempted to buy one of these just for “kicks and jiggles” as my non-native-English-speaking wife likes to say. It wouldn’t even be the first weird little folding e-bike thing I’ve bought this month.
Volkswagen cites slow demand amid EV production cuts at German plants
Amid several reports that Volkswagen is cutting EV production at two German plants, the automaker revealed the reason – slowing demand.
Volkswagen suspends EV production in Germany
Last week, a report from the German newspaper Automobilwoche claimed Volkswagen was pausing EV production at its Dresden facility in Germany.
Volkswagen’s Dresden facility has built over 150,000 VW Phaeton, e-Golf, ID.3, and Bentley Flying Spur models since beginning production in 2002. Last year, 6,500 ID.3 EVs were built at the location.
The automaker will temporarily suspend ID.3 production at the plant for two weeks during the Saxon autumn holidays, as first reported by Germany’s DPA news. Starting October 16, the electric car will be built again in regular single-shift operation.
Dresden’s roughly 300 employees will be reassigned to other areas, including “innovative manufacturing and testing.”
Meanwhile, at Volkswagen’s main BEV plant in Zwichau, one of the two production lines will shut down during the holidays, according to a spokesperson (via Automobilwoche).
The news comes after VW announced at a staff meeting earlier this month it would be cutting 269 temporary jobs at the site.
Although Volkswagen’s ID.3 and Cupra Born will be impacted by the halt, ID.4, ID.5, Audi Q4 e-tron, and Audi Q4 sportback e-tron models will continue regular production in three shifts.
Volkswagen is discussing with local labor reps how to proceed with EV production at the Zwickau plant.
The company did not specify how many units or employees would be affected by the changes.
Volkswagen is struggling to attract new EV orders amid higher inflation and weaning subsidies in Europe. Europe’s largest automaker also faces a growing threat from more advanced EV competitors like Tesla and BYD.
The core Volkswagen brand faces pressure as cheaper, more advanced EVs are taking market share at home and abroad.
In Volkswagen’s largest market by revenue (China), the automaker was surpassed by BYD as the best-selling car brand earlier this year.
In the wake of slowing demand, VW slashed ID.3 and ID.4 prices in the region. But how long can VW keep this up?
Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume aims to boost VW brand returns to 6.5% over the next three years. Currently, it’s around 3.6%.
With EV makers like Tesla, BYD, and several other Chinese start-ups expanding rapidly, Volkswagen will need to act urgently to risk falling further behind.
Honda’s new electric sports car will debut next month, hinting at an NSX successor EV
At the Japan Mobility Show next month, Honda will showcase several new products and tech, including a new electric sports car that will headline the booth.
The new electric sports car will “enable the driver to experience the pure joy of driving,” according to Honda.
Although the automaker was light on the details behind the project, it claims the concept will represent “Honda’s continuous pursuit of the joy of driving” while embodying Honda’s universal sports mindset and distinctive characteristics.
Also ready to make an appearance at the booth is Honda’s SUSTAINA-C Concept and Pocket Concept, designed to use limited resources.
Both models are made of recycled and reused acrylic resin with the idea of “resource circulation” for environmental sustainability and future mobility freedom.
Other EV products set to make their world debut include the Honda CI-MEV. The two-seat, four-wheel mini EV uses Honda’s cooperative intelligence (CI) and automated driving for last-mile deliveries and areas with limited mobility options.
A prototype of Honda’s new commercial-use mini EV with a portable external power output device, Power Exporter e: 6000, will also be displayed.
Honda to unveil new electric sports car
Honda revealed plans to launch 30 new EV models globally by the end of the decade, including at least two electric sports cars.
One will be a specialty model, while the other will be a flagship. Speculation suggests one of the models will be an NSX, a two-seater sports coupe (An Acura model in North America), with the other being a GT.
Honda teased the upcoming electric sports cars under wraps, showing a low-profile vehicle with a similar body design to the NSX.
According to the British automotive magazine Car, Honda’s EV performance car will ride on the automaker e:n platform, featured in its e:Ny1 electric SUV.
The EV could also wear the Type R badge, as Honda’s technical consultant, Kotaro Yamamoto, said, “Type R stands for racing. It’s a pleasure transported. An electric car can deliver this, and a Type R is not obliged to use a combustion engine. Even in a fully electric society, there will still be Type Rs delivering ultimate driving pleasure.”
Other than that, Honda is keeping the details under wraps. We’ll learn more about the electric performance car next month.
The electric sports car will make its world debut at the Japan Mobility Show, running from October 28 to November 5, 2023. Media days will be October 25-26.
Is this the production Tesla Cybertruck?
New Tesla Cybertrucks, rumored to be “Master Candidates,” the final step before production, have been spotted coming out of Gigafactory Texas.
For the past month, Tesla has had full and at times, partial shutdowns, of production at Gigafactory Texas as it conducted factory upgrades.
Yesterday, a drone video shot by Joe Tegtmeyer confirmed that workers are now coming back to the factory.
The video showed new Model Y bodies coming out of the factory and new Cybertrucks.
There have been rumors that the shutdown at Gigafactory Texas might have been linked to the start of Cybertruck production.
Tegtmeyer, who often gets to talk to Giga Texas employees as he flyes drones there almost daily, claims that the new Cybertrucks spotted coming out of the factory are “Master Candidates,” the last step before production.
While it can’t be confirmed if they are master candidates or production versions, the two Cybertrucks spotted at the factory did look a lot more refined than the previously spotted prototypes:
The trims and fittings seem to blend better with the stainless steel body of the electric pickup truck.
While we can’t judge the vehicle’s fit and finish too closely because the footage is taken from a distance with a drone, the looks of those two Cybertrucks are encouraging.
Tesla is expected to officially start Cybertruck production any day now with deliveries to start at an event likely within the next month.
More Cybertrucks have been spotted parked at the homes of Tesla employees, which is a good sign that internal testing has expanded.
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