At the recent Tokyo Motor Show, Honda Motor Company’s new president, Takahiro Hachigo, had an announcement destined to bring joy to fans of the most produced motor-equipped vehicle on earth. After years on display of an electric version of the classic Honda Super Cub at various auto shows around the world, Hachigo announced that the company will go ahead with production of a new and improved version in 2018.
The “EV-Cub” will be targeted to riders who need a low-speed “city” bike and one with a sleek, updated design intended for emissions-free short trips. The classic gasoline-powered Honda Super Cub started out with the same aim, but soon developed the do-anything work ethic that saw the Super Cub take on commuting and delivery duties as well as being a surprisingly stout long distance tourer.
Sochiro Honda and his colleague Takeo Fujisawa first conceived of an ultra lightweight motorbike after a trip to Germany in 1956. Together, with Honda doing the designing and Fukisawa building the business case, they came up with the first production Super Cub in 1958. An immediate success, production of the Super Cub by Honda and partner companies (like Taiwan’s SYM, whose Symba just went out of production), surpassed 87 million vehicles since 1958. The dealer networks created to sell Super Cubs and parts and service formed the backbone of Honda’s worldwide operations that were later to spin off into automobile dealerships. The Super Cub built Honda as we know it, and with over 87 million built, it is (by far) the most popular motorized vehicle ever created by man. And with the growth of the bike, additional variants and naming conventions arrived. Off-road capable Super Cubs created by an Idaho dealer for his local market were later adapted and mass-produced by the factory for the U.S (the Trail 50 and 70 models), along with a series of delivery specials for international markets. Once only sporting 49ccs of displacement, later versions added electric starting and a steady progression of displacement additions that wound up with the 101cc version of the Cub, this time built by SYM as the WoWow. The WoWow later came to the the U.S. as the SYM Symba. It’s its later years the Honda Cub was known as the Passport in the US. Ever improving the bike, Honda later added fuel injection and a top displacement of 110ccs in the last models. Although it’s still on sale in Japan, the gasoline-powered Super Cubs days are over.
The long-awaited EV-Cub will retain the distinctive (and trademarked) silhouette of the original Super Cub, but will be much sleeker and packed with technology. The photos show a clean re-interpretation of the Super Cub, but with a prominent electronic display to go with mildly revised ergonomics, a built in rear rack and a handy removable battery with a built in-handle to make charging at ones desk or at home a real possibility. Performance details as given were the same as the earlier electric Super Cub models and Gizmag suggests that they will improve as both battery and motor efficiency have increased in the intervening years. It’s anyone’s guess, but a 30 mph speed and 30 mile range would make this version of the EV-Cub a worldwide success for such a light and small battery-equipped vehicle.
The 2018 EV-Cub will debut in Japan and move on to other Asian markets. No word on when the EV-Cub may hit the U.S., but hope springs eternal. A higher speed and longer distance EV-Cub may just find that combination of ease-of-use and approachability that made it’s ancestor such a popular vehicle around the world.