Last month, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Grab Inc., to begin discussion toward collaboration in the area of motorcycle sharing services in Southeast Asia. Grab provides ride-hailing platform through which users share and utilize automobiles and motorcycles. This means the Japanese manufacturer wants to seriously explore the idea of sharing motorcycles in a similar fashion to carpooling.
While riders in North America try to wrap their helmeted heads around the concept of having a total stranger on the back of their bike, how motorcycles are used in Asia should be considered.
More widely used as daily transportation, smaller motorcycles tend to be how a large portion of people get around. This has led to motorcycle taxis becoming a common sight throughout Asia as well as being a thing in Brazil, England and France. A service was introduced to the United States in 2011 but doesn’t appear to be around anymore.
Between this unique way of using motorcycles as well as the ‘sharing economy’ becoming more commonplace and acceptable, the idea behind motorcycle sharing services seems to have sprung.
It’s against this backdrop, Honda and Grab will work together and strive to realize new mobility services in the area of sharing by conducting experimental initiatives in Southeast Asia while utilizing resources of the two companies. This includes the knowledge Grab has been amassing through its ride-hailing businesses and Honda’s motorcycle lineup, sales network and services.
Motorcycle Taxi's are pretty common in Asia
The idea would be simple. Person 'A' wants to head downtown, a mobile application tells them motorcyclist 'B' is heading that way and A electronically flags B to be picked up with some sort of cost involved. Uber introduced a motorcycle taxi service in the congested streets of Bangkok earlier this year.
What’s being considered by Honda and with the other motorcycle taxi companies around the world, aren’t rental services but a biker version of Uber. Renting motorcycles can be done through large corporations such as Eaglerider or through a two-wheeled version of Airbnb, Riders Share. The goal of Riders Share, a peer-to-peer motorcycle rentals marketplace, is to make motorcycle rentals affordable and in turn, ownership affordable.
Honda and Grab are quick to point out, its more than making it cheaper to get around, traffic congestion in urban areas and the reduction of CO2 emissions are all considerations and reasons why an organization as large as Honda would ride down this unfamiliar road.
“In the midst of the dramatic structural change of the mobility industry, the “sharing economy” that is rapidly expanding all around the world has great potential to broaden the concept of mobility itself,” Shinji Aoyama, Operating Officer and Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. notes. “For the collaboration with Grab, we will discuss how we can offer safer and more convenient products and services for our shared goal of resolving issues and challenges facing society in Southeast Asia.”
And while this idea is primarily focused on Southeast Asia, the world is growing ever-smaller with every year that goes by, so who knows if, or when, we could see this idea cruise into North America?