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Honda Remakes An Obscure Classic In Electric Form

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Decades ago, Honda was pretty far ahead of the times. During the 1970s, it got a jump on U.S. domestic automakers, who weren’t ready for oil crises and the accompanying demand for smaller, more efficient vehicles. In the next decade, they pioneered micromobility, and in a time long before anybody every said micromobility.

If you’re a weird car nerd like me, you’ve probably already heard of the Honda Motocompo, but if you’re not (that’s totally OK), then you’ll probably want to watch this video:


The Motocompo was a tiny fold-up moped that could fit in the trunk of a car, and it came as an optional upgrade to the Honda City Turbo II. The idea was that you could drive the City to the edge of the city, park it somewhere, and then continue your commute into work with the little motorcycle.

It’s little 49cc engine produced about 2.5 horsepower, a number that seems impossibly small today. Its top speed was about like an e-bike or a scooter today. But, its ability to fold down to the size of a suitcase meant it was easy to lug into the office, ride back to the car, and then drive home.

But, this idea was so far ahead of its time that people just weren’t ready for it. Motocompos are now collector’s items, and only weird car nerds, import enthusiasts, and Honda fanatics want one.

But, if you’re familiar with e-bikes and scooters, the low power figures and low top speed of the Motocompo probably sounds familiar. Today, a small folding scooter is not just a cool idea, but something people all over the place are doing today.

So, Honda’s idea is now something the world’s ready for, but nobody wants the two-stroke gas engine in 2023.

Honda’s Updated Electric Design: The Motocompacto!

As the Top Gear video mentions above, the Motocompacto name was trademarked years ago, and we knew this was coming. But, now all of the details are available.

The Motocompacto is a zero-emissions vehicle designed for urban mobility. It offers riders a convenient and eco-friendly alternative with a maximum speed of 15 mph and a range of up to 12 miles on a full charge. It can be fully charged in just 3.5 hours using a common 110 v outlet, whether in the folded or ready-to-ride configuration.

But, unlike other e-bikes, it comes in the same iconic shape and design as the old Motocompo.

“Motocompacto is uniquely Honda — a fun, innovative and unexpected facet of our larger electrification strategy,” said Jane Nakagawa, vice president of the R&D Business Unit at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “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.”

The vehicle was designed and developed by Honda engineers in Ohio and California. With 32 patents to its name, this uniquely foldable vehicle quickly transforms into a compact, lightweight, and stackable carrying case. It’s perfect for on-the-go transportation, whether in a vehicle, on public transportation, or in tight storage spaces. But, unlike the old one, you can “fuel” it at work and anywhere else they’d let you use an electrical outlet.

Motocompacto, even more than its ancestor, is an ideal solution for navigating cityscapes and college campuses. Its design prioritizes rider comfort and convenience, featuring a plush seat, secure grip foot pegs, on-board storage, a digital speedometer, a charge gauge, and a comfortable carry handle. With the help of a smart phone app, riders can effortlessly customize their personal settings, such as lighting and ride modes, using Bluetooth connectivity.

“Motocompacto is easy to use and fun to ride, but was also designed with safety, durability, and security in mind,” said Nick Ziraldo, project lead and design engineering unit leader at Honda Development and Manufacturing of America. “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.”

Charging is fast and convenient with a compact charger that can be stored on-board. Motocompacto features sleek and simple styling that allows for personalization with decals, stickers, skins, and more, not unlike a laptop. To enhance the ownership experience, a range of branded Motocompacto accessories will be available, including a helmet, backpack, apparel, and more.

Orders will start in November, and you can do this either at the company’s Motocompacto website or via your local Honda dealer. The bike will go for $995, so it’s a lot cheaper than trying to find a Motocompo in good condition, even before you consider the price of gas.

A Good Sign That Micromobility Has Arrived

Unlike the old Motocompo, the Motocompacto is designed for more of a mass market appeal. It’s not an accessory you can add onto one vehicle, but something you can buy separately. The appeal to college students probably means that they expect many sales to happen with people who aren’t Honda car buyers.

With the insane popularity of e-bikes, scooters, and other small EVs, it’s clear that the overall concept of the Motocompo was sound, but premature. But, the electric version is ready for action and fits in an established market niche. If Honda is willing to risk its name on a revived electric version, it’s a clear sign that the era of micromobility isn’t just a passing fad, but something that’s here to stay.

The question now is whether the Honda name and the nostalgia behind it will make it a good competitor in the market. It’s somewhere between a scooter and an e-bike, and it’s not going to be as stable as either of those with such small wheels. It also looks like it might not be a comfortable ride compared to other micromobility solutions on the market.

But, we want to give the Motocompacto the benefit of the doubt, so we’ve reached out to Honda to see if they can send us one to check out.

If the convenience of storage and the retro aesthetics are successful, Honda might be able to make some money selling these and open up a new market niche for the company that’s a little outside of its traditional automotive and motorcycle history.

Featured image provided by Honda.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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