• The Associated Press


Yamaha is targeting fashionable environmentally minded consumers with a new electric scooter designed for short city commutes.

The ¥240,000 “smart minimal commuter” EC-03, shown to reporters Wednesday, is zero-emission and superquiet, making it convenient for late-night city driving, motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor Co. said.

Its maximum cruising range on a single charge is technically 43 km but in regular road conditions, drivers should not count on more than 25 km, Yamaha said.

“Aspiring to low-emissions societies is a certain global trend,” said Hiroyuki Yanagi, Yamaha president and chief executive.

The scooter, which recharges from a regular home socket, goes on sale in September in Tokyo and nationwide in October. It will be introduced in Taiwan and Europe in 2011. There are no plans for the U.S. market so far. Yamaha hopes to sell 1,000 in Japan in the first year.

Yamaha believes it can compete against the Chinese and smaller manufacturers to gain the top global market share in electric motorcycles in the next few years by exploiting its half-century of experience in manufacturing two-wheelers.

It faces competition from electric bikes, which are generally more simply constructed than the EC-03, and are already booming in China, with an estimated 20 million in use.

In April, Honda Motor Co. showed off the electric scooter EV-neo, but that was planned only for leasing in Japan in December, targeting companies like newspaper publishers and pizza joints that make deliveries.

Honda, Japan’s No. 2 automaker, also makes motorcycles and competes with Yamaha in that sector. Overseas plans and sales to individual consumers for EV-neo are undecided.

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