Honda Super Cub: the world’s bestselling vehicle goes electric

Honda has been praised for maintaining its Super Cub motorcycle’s shape and character for over half a century, but a new concept shows a drastic shift in design. Honda recently revealed its lineup for the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and it includes two new variants of the venerable bike: the Super Cub and EV-Cub concepts. And though the Cub’s heritage is in the lines and details, there are some significant changes, particularly the EV-Cub’s electric motor.

How does Honda replace the powertrain without upsetting the bike’s low weight and beloved handling characteristics? What the carmaker did is place the heavy battery in a low and central position, lowering the center of gravity. This also makes it easier to mount and dismount the bike. The battery is detachable, so the rider can take it inside their home and charge it from a standard wall socket.

The Super Cub concepts employ a more scooter-like stance than current production models. The colors hearken back to older examples, but the ten-spoke cast wheels are new. Y-shaped handlebars are integrated with the bodywork, and the instrument cluster features a blue digital display.

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The current Honda Super Cub  has sold 87 million units as of March 2014, making it the bestselling motor vehicle in history. That is more than the next three bestselling vehicles — the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Model T — combined. The Super Cub began production in 1958, and is currently manufactured in 15 factories in 14 countries. It is marketed in 160 countries.

Honda’s 1960s Super Cub ad campaign, featuring the slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” was so popular that it became a case study for students and advertisers alike.

In 2014, the Japanese government issued its first three-dimensional vehicle trademark registration to the Super Cub. That’s right, the actual shape of the bike is now its own brand.

The Tokyo Motor Show will run from October 29 to November 8. We will be bringing you more motoring news as the event approaches.

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