Honda has just introduced a 4 wheel electric scooter, a personal mobility vehicle for those who have a difficult time getting around. If you’ll recall, we mentioned Yamaha was going into the electric wheelchair market because of its potential for huge profits but it looks like Honda has an entry ready to go now. As Yamaha said earlier, the motorcycle market in Japan is actually declining and manufacturers are looking for alternate products to take up the slack. It will be sold through specified power sport and motorcycle dealers.
The Monpal is an electric vehicle which is classified by law in Japan as a pedestrian so they must drive on the sidewalk and are not required to have a driver’s license. What is interesting here is the level of technology displayed by Honda, this is by no means what people think of when the term “electric wheelchair” is used, headlights and side marker lights, rearview mirrors and sophisticated suspension, and I suspect we’ll see more of this as the boomer population ages and companies like Honda and others diversify to serve that market.
TOKYO, Japan, January 23, 2006 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced the release of the new Monpal ML200, a stylish 4-wheel scooter with a comfortable ride and high maneuvering stability that delivers easy, carefree operation. The new Monpal will be available throughout Japan starting Wednesday, March 15 at specified Honda power product and motorcycle dealers that offer Monpal products.
With a compact overall width of just 595mm and a front fender that makes it easy to see the direction and motion of the front wheel from the driver’s seat, the Monpal ML200 offers a slim, smart package with outstanding maneuverability. The specially developed suspension keeps the tires firmly in contact with the ground even over minor sidewalk gradations, to continually maintain a comfortable, stable ride. Furthermore, a high-output, brushless motor and newly developed, high-efficiency control system achieve top-class hill climbing stamina with very little speed loss on uphill slopes and 25km of continuous operation on a single battery charge, along with smoother starting, stopping and handling.
The design features a slim, nimble form and distinctive U-shaped pillar design that gives firmly protected feeling to the driver. Also, for the first time in a commercial vehicle, the Monpal ML200 employs the LONG visibility enhancement design developed using cerebral functioning analysis and adapted from the Honda ASV-3 advanced safety research vehicle, to ensure improved driver visibility.