Are you ready for an Electric Vespa?

electric vespa

It seems Vespa, the iconic Italian scooter, is gearing up to go electric.  That’s right we might have an Electric Vespa around the corner.

Piaggio, the Italian owner of Vespa, recently showcased the Vespa Elettrica as they are calling it. The company has not released many technical details on the Vespa Elettrica. The statement really only has “marketing speak” as I like to put it.

It would be smart for Vespa to sell an Electric version. The market for electric scooters is quite large in Asia, particularly China.  In my interview with Nathan Siy, founder of Evoke Motorcycles, he talked about how good the infrastructure already is for electric scooters.

While China might have the technical prowess and production capability… obviously the Italy has the pizzazz.  Vespa is recognized around the world as a “Scooter” which is hard to compete with.  The Vespa brand is iconic having been featured in the movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

What do you think of Electric Vespas? A smart move for Vespa?

Vespa Elettrica – The Mobility of the Future According to Vespa

Introducing the Vespa Elettrica project, the new mobility solution according to the most elegant and beloved two-wheeled brand in the world that takes a step into the future in complete consistency with the values that have accompanied its history.

Over four billion of the seven billion people residing on Earth live and work in heavily populated urban areas. New supercities are constantly springing up and, becoming increasingly interconnected, a phenomenon which is set to drive economic and social development. Today almost 80% of the world’s GDP is generated in these huge urban metropoles, which in turn consume 80% of the world’s energy. Higher and higher numbers of people are flocking to these cities, whose size is increasing to accommodate them despite the risk of social collapse owing to liveability problems. The world’s 600 largest cities are now home to 20% of the world’s population and they generate more than 50% of global wealth.

The mobility sector is facing a change of scenery that poses epoch-making challenges connected to the environment, pollution and the quality of life.

In its most advanced developments, the electric engine is currently the favoured solution for the requirements of this new mobility.

A technological and cultural challenge

The Piaggio Group, whose tradition in electric motors dates back as far as the mid-seventies and who launched the first and best-sold hybrid scooter, is investing in the electric mobility of the future, presenting the Vespa Elettrica project at Eicma 2016.

It was only right that such a big challenge would be tackled under the wing of the Vespa brand.

Vespa has changed the lives of entire generations all over the world, always giving the most advanced answer to their desire for mobility that has skilfully interpreted and evolved while still remaining true to itself.

On the back of more than 18 million models, over 1.5 million of which have been sold in the last decade alone, such global success has turned the brand into a universal symbol of elegance and technology.

Now the Vespa Elettrica project confirms the Piaggio Group’s commitment, not only to people mobility, but to a desire to change the way in which people move.

The Vespa Elettrica will, first and foremost, be a true Vespa, bringing the very latest in electric technology to a vehicle that will retain all the features that have been vital to its success.

The style, agility, ease of use and riding pleasure will be the same as the Vespa we have always known, with the addition of technological and innovative connectivity solutions.

A perfect mix of excitement, technology and environmental friendliness that only Vespa can create. Like it has always done in its first seventy years of history.

UK rolls out Electric Motorcycle Tax Grants

2015 zero s

The United Kingdom (UK) government recently rolled out Tax Grants, aka tax incentives, for electric motorcycles.

Fortunately for consumers in the UK that are interested in purchasing an electric motorcycle the process will be simple. An electric motorcycle buyer will NOT need to submit paperwork the UK government to take advantage of the Tax Grant.

Dealerships are expected to use the plug-in motorcycle grant when the electric motorcycle is sold.

The plug-in motorcycle grant is deducted from the price of the vehicle at the point of sale by the dealership. No paperwork is required from the customer, except a survey, to benefit from the grant.

You can read more about the requirements on the UK Government’s Plug-in motorcycle grant eligibility page.  Unfortunately I’m not sure how much the UK electric motorcycle Tax Grant is. The page does not specify.

While it is good to see the UK offering this electric motorcycle Tax Grant, I don’t see many current electric motorcycle options in the UK. Electric scooters, yes plenty I believe, electric motorcycles, not really.

Zero Motorcycles temporarily pulled out of the UK market several years ago.  The reason was poor demand and no UK tax incentives for electric motorcycles. There are a few dealerships listed in the UK for the electric bikes. What about other electric motorcycle companies?

I wrote about Agni Motors merger.  They are not really a motorcycle manufacturer as much as an electric motor and parts supply company though.

Sway releases Sweet Video with Rider Testimonials [VIDEO]

Sway, the cool trike electric motorcycle, has just released a promotional video featuring testimonials from riders.

Seems the whole idea of the video is to show how easy the Sway is to ride for anyone.  Some quotes from Sway riders in the new video;

“I really feel like I could take this anywhere. ”

“It’s gonna put smiles on people’s faces. ”

“I gotta get me one of those.”

Remember the Sway electric motorcycle that was featured on Shark Tank.  The three-wheeled trike/electric motorcycle has gotten a lot of press from the Shark Tank appearance.  Seems like it is helping Sway Motorsports market the electric trike.  Still the Sway has yet to be available to customers yet.

What do you think of this video of the Sway?

“How It’s Made” features Zero Motorcycles [VIDEO]

how its made electric motorcycles

How Its Made” featured an episode on electric motorcycles.  For those that don’t know about How Its Made it is a TV show goes through the process of how products and items in our everyday lives are built, assembled, or manufactured.  It’s definitely a fun show for people who enjoy knowing how things are made.

You can watch the How Its Made episode on electric motorcycles since it is up on Youtube.  It’s about 5 minutes which is a good length of time for the social media crowd these days.

How Its Made – Electric Motorcycles

This segment was filmed at the Zero Motorcycles factory and headquarters in Santa Cruz, California and it looks like they were assembling a Zero S.  It’s quite interesting to see the process of Zero bikes getting built and realizing how much simpler it is than a gas powered motorcycle. There are significantly less components when you realize there is no internal combustion engine (ICE), transmission or clutch, and no gas tank.

There is one misconception in the episode, that electric motorcycles do not require maintenance free.  As I’ve been learned more about electric vehicles I’ve come to know this is not necessarily a true statement. The narrator says in the  How Its Made episode the belt used on the Zero S is maintenance free, since it is made of kevlar. Granted, yes the material is tough, but it can wear out.  On the USA to Patagonia road trip journey we know that Thomas had to get his Zero kevlar belt replaced. Electric Motorcycle Club is also aware that owners with 2-3 year old Zero bikes have been having issues where the motors die or the batteries are bricked (meaning they can’t be charged anymore).  There will be a “ZeroCast” webinar about Zero’s electric motorcycle technology on July 8th, which seems spurred by the rising number of complaints from owners.

Still the How Its Made episode was fun to watch for an electric motorcycle enthusiast. What I think it interesting is that for the most part Zero motorcycles are hand assembled at this point. To get production volume at a higher capacity I would hope the company is looking into using more efficient means of assembly and manufacturing.  You know, robotics on an assembly line. I guess Zero doesn’t have the cash for that yet.

What do you think of this How Its Made episode featuring electric motorcycles? If you are a rider, or want to be one someday, does seeing the process of how an electric motorcycle is made make you want to consider buying one in the future?

6,000 Miles on an Electric Motorcycle – USA to Patagonia Update

usa to patagonia

Some of you might remember when we wrote about Thomas Tomczyk.  Thomas is a journalist that is attempting to be the first man to go from the USA to Patagonia on an Electric Motorcycle.  He’s calling his journey the Electric Powered Odyssey and he recently announced he’s gone 10,000 kilometers, which is equivalent to 6213 miles, in a posting on his website titled “A Small Landmark.”

A small landmark: my GPS is showing I travelled 10,000 kilometers from Philadelphia to Granada, Nicaragua. Over the past 90 days I travelled across 12 US states, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

He also mentions some of the interesting places he has had to charge his 2012 Zero S motorcycle.

I’ve charged the motorbike at both ordinary and bizarre places: libraries, fire stations, post offices, schools, police stations, coffee shops, restaurants, banks, schools, a Louisiana jail, museums, at an ice cream truck, and even at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The savings he’s had for not paying for gas have added up.

While I share the story of this Electric Odyssey and fundraise for the Wounded Warrior Project I am meeting the most amazing people. We exchange stories, ideas and energy and so far I have not paid for a single charge. The savings in fuel (compared to a 50 MPG motorbike and $4/gallon gasoline) are around $500, plus saving of two oil changes – $120.

It would be good to know what electricity would have cost to “fill up” vs gas.  Whatever it is I’m sure it still would be a miniscule amount. Perhaps the $620 dollar savings to some people wouldn’t be worth the hassle.  Thomas Tomczyk is trying to show what’s possible with electric vehicles and saving some money is more of a side benefit.

Thomas still has a way to go on his electric motorcycle journey but he’s been making great progress.  We encourage everyone to follow him on the website Electric Powered Odyssey to stay updated with the USA to Patagonia road trip.

Zero hosting Webinar about Electric Motorcycle technology – July 8th

zero webinar

Zero Motorcycles is hosting a webinar about the technology that goes into their electric motorcycles in addition to their powertrains. Abe Askenazi, Chief Technology Officer of Zero Motorcycles, will be on hand to lead the “ZeroCast” webinar as they are calling it.

Here is the description regarding the electric motorcycle webinar;

Join us for our first ever “ZeroCast” webinar to get inside the technology that makes Zero tick. Zero CTO, Abe Askenazi, will discuss electric motorcycles and our proprietary Z-Force powertrain. Wednesday, July 8th, 1-2pm PDT.

There is no cost to attend the ZeroCast webinar as it seems to be an educational and good promotional tool for Zero.

No signup required to view, but a free login is needed to participate.

While it’s great Zero Motorcycles is holding this webinar and giving fans an inside look into the company, I believe it is a calculated PR move.  I imagine the reason Zero is holding this “ZeroCast” webinar is because there has been chatter from unhappy owners on various electric motorcycle communities online.  Several people have reported issues of their motors failing within 2-3 years, after the warranty of their Zero motorcycle expired.  I’ve also read Zero owners complaining that batteries have died and “bricked” their bikes, which is an electric vehicle term meaning it is completely inoperable.  Owners seem to have had a lot of difficulty dealing with dealerships in regards to fixing their Zero electric motorcycles and getting answers from the company in a timely manner about repair solutions.  Some dealerships are uninterested in working on Zero bikes or flatly refuse, which is obviously a big issue if your electric bike needs repair.

Zero wants to combat fears that their bikes are unreliable, difficult to fix and repair, and expensive when something is needed.  Some of the problems that people have had to deal with are quite expensive.  This is somewhat contrary to Zero’s marketing of being “maintenance free’ compared to gas motorcycles and less expensive when calculating total cost of ownership.

For those interested in attending the ZeroCast webinar with Abe Askenazi you can sign-up here.  It takes place on July 8th, Wednesday 1-2 pm, Pacific Standard Time as Zero’s headquarters is in Santa Cruz, California.

Pikes Peak Electric Motorcycle Wrap-Up 2015

This year at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) we only saw a few electric motorcycle teams competing but that doesn’t make Pikes Peak any less exciting.  Here is a breakdown and wrap-up from this year.

pikes peak

Pikes Peak – Electric Motorcycles

In the Electric Bike Production class Hollywood Electrics won all three podium spots with Jeff Clark being the fastest up the mountain.  His teammates Nathan Barber and Brandon Nozaki Miller took the 2nd and 3rd places spots. The team is sponsored by Zero Motorcycles and Hollywood Electrics came to defend their title this year, so they accomplished that goal.

It should be noted the Hollywood Electrics team was the only electric motorcycle team in the Electric Production Bike category this year.  They also had 3 riders… so it was fairly easy to clinch those top podium spots.  Something we noticed that Zero Motorcycles didn’t mention in the press release, oh well.  Since Hollywood Electrics is the only bike dealership that only sells electric motorcycles in the country, it’s good PR for them.  We’ve heard of people ordering bikes from them in Los Angeles and having them shipped.  🙂

What we were impressed with this year is that Hollywood Electrics decided to use solar panels to charge all the Zero SR racing bikes.  Impressive and I assume we might see this more as Lightning Motorcycles (see below) set the example originally back in 2013.

We wrote about Jeff Clark’s lap on Pikes Peak already but you can also watch it here too.

Jeff Clark – Pikes Peak Lap

In the Electric Modified Bike class there were 2 teams that were racing up Pikes Peak, Buckeye Current and Mirai.  Yoshihiro Kishimoto came in first place racing for team Mirai, which is based out of Japan.  You can watch Kishimoto’s lap here.

Yoshihiro Kishimoto – Pikes Peak Lap

Buckeye Current came in second, which is a team composed of engineering students from Ohio State University.  The team has been successful in electric motorcycle racing in the past scoring a 3rd place finish at the Isle of Man TT Zero last year.  This year the team’s replacement rider, Joe Prussiano, said there were some gremlins with the reworked RW-3 electric motorcycle.  Prussiano replaced Rob Barber, Ohio State’s original rider, after Barber suffered from injuries sustained during practice.  You can read about the incident in my article about Ohio State competing at Pikes Peak.

To get an idea about Joe Prussiano’s lap on Pikes Peak you can watch it here.  Still looks intense even with problems with the bike.

Joe Prussiano – Pikes Peak Lap

Electric Cars take 1st and 2nd Place

While the field of electric motorcycle contenders was small this year, I fell compelled to mention it still was a positive overall event for electric vehicles. Well known race car driver Rhys Millen took the fastest lap time up Pikes Peak this year in an electric race car built by the Latvian team eO.  The second place finisher was also an electric car driven by Pikes Peak legend Nobuhiro Tajima racing for Tajima Motors.

This shows that electric vehicles can compete in racing with gas powered vehicles.  I am expecting to see a lot more electric racing on Pikes Peak in coming years because Tajima and Millen took 1st and 2n place this year.

Check out LiveTiming for the complete listing of times and classes.

Lightning Motorcycles?

Noticeably absent this year at Pikes Peak was Lightning Motorcycles.  Some people might remember back in 2013 Lightning beat all motorcycle teams, electric or gas, by 20 seconds.  While that was a respectable time margin on Pikes Peak the more impressive thing was Lightning Motorcycles charged all their bikes with solar panels. So they spent nothing powering their electric race motorcycles.

We assume this might be due to the fact the company is currently trying to get their LS-218 street electric motorcycle rolling off the assembly line.  Loz Blain from Gizmag reviewed the LS-218 and was impressed with the bike’s sheer acceleration.  Translogic, an Autolbog show, also did an episode about the Lighting LS-218 and was impressed as well.

Pikes Peak next year?

We aren’t sure about the field of competitors that will be at Pikes Peak next year, but we hope to see more electric motorcycle teams.  With the success of eO and Tajima motors I bet you’ll see more electric vehicles in general racing on the mountain.

Hollywood Electrics wins title at Pikes Peak again

hollywood electrics pikes peak

Hollywood Electrics won the title for Electric Production Bike at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) again.  The Los Angeles based electric motorcycle dealership swept all three podium spots at Pikes Peak this year as well. Of course I should make it clear that they were the only team competing in the Electric Production Bike class this year and they had three riders.  So taking the top podium spots wasn’t exactly a challenge, but still we are writing about it here on Electric Motorcycle Club. Hey, what do you expect when the market for electric motorcycles is so small? 🙂

The Hollywood Electrics team is sponsored by Zero Motorcycles and they raced on 2015 Zero SR’s which are the company’s top-of-the-line performance models.  Jeff Clark took the top spot again which he has won three years in a row against the other Hollywood Electrics riders.  See our article on Jeff Clark’s Pikes Peak lap up the mountain. The other riders were Nathan Barker and Brandon Nozaki Miller.

The other electric motorcycles at Pikes Peak this season was for the Electric Modified Bike class. The field was small as well with only two teams competing.  Yoshihiro Kishimoto racing for Mirai, a team based out of Japan, and there was Joe Prussiano riding for Buckeye Current, which is a student team from Ohio State University.

We hope to see more production and custom electric motorcycles competing in the future at Pikes Peak.

Zero Motorcycles Sweeps Pikes Peak Podium [Press Release]

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., — Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that it swept the podium at the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In partnership with Hollywood Electrics, the team successfully defended its title as fastest in the production electric motorcycle class. 2015 marks the third consecutive year that a Zero motorcycle took the overall win in the category. This year, the riders chose to compete on the Zero SR model.

Scot Harden, vice president of Global Marketing at Zero, was on hand for the event. “Zero Motorcycles is extremely proud of the results and effort put forth by the Hollywood Electrics team,” said Harden. “Their passion for electric motorcycles and racing is second to none, as proven again at the world’s most prestigious hill climb event. Our heartfelt thanks to Harlan Flagg and Thomas Ito, as well as the racers, Jeff Clark, Nathan Barker, Brandon Nozaki Miller and the entire Hollywood Electrics support crew.”

Jeff Clark defended his production electric motorcycle class title with a time of 12:06.346, followed by Nathan Barker in second at 12:37.161, and Brandon Nozaki Miller in third at 13:10.894. Beyond the production class, Zero powered the fastest overall electric motorcycle in the modified electric category, as ridden by Yoshihiro Kishimoto. Kishimoto posted a blistering time of 10:58.861, which was good for 29th of all vehicles entered.

One of Jeff Clark’s rides up the mountain’s famous 12.42-mile course with 156 turns can be seen here:

2015 may be remembered as a tipping point for electric vehicle racing, as the fastest vehicle at the event was an electric car driven by multiple Pikes Peak Hill Climb winner, Rhys Millen. “Whether it’s on two wheels or four, electric technology is progressing at an astonishing rate,” said Scot Harden of Zero Motorcycles. “Electric vehicles are now undeniably a force to be reckoned with in international competition.”

About Zero Motorcycles

Zero Motorcycles is committed to transforming the motorcycling experience by bringing to market highly innovative electric motorcycles that offer exceptional value and performance. Zero is powered by innovation, driven by passion, guided by integrity and measured by results. Through extensive research, insight and experience, Zero combines the art and science of motorcycle development to create and manufacture products that excite consumers and inspire brand loyalty. Every model is designed and built in California. Zero is determined to be the preeminent global electric motorcycle company.

Jeff Clark & Hollywood Electrics run Pikes Peak [VIDEO]

zero sr

Here is Jeff Clark’s run racing for Hollywood Electrics this year at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) in Colorado.

Editor’s Note – You’ll probably hear a siren noise throughout the video. That’s not the actually electric motorcycle but a designed “noise maker.”  This is required at Pikes Peak due to the fact that electric vehicles are not as loud as gas vehicles. This makes it so that people and officials know the bikes is coming. 

Jeff Clark (Hollywood Electrics) – Pikes Peak

His run up Pikes Peak was 12:06.346, which means Clark took first spot again this year for Hollywood Electrics in the Electric Production Bike category racing on a Zero SR electric motorcycle.

Joe Prussiano and Ohio State’s Pikes Peak run [VIDEO]

ohio state electric motorcycle

Check out Joe Prussiano’s run for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) this year racing for the Ohio State Buckeye Current team.

Editor’s Note – You’ll probably hear a “whirring” noise throughout the video. That’s not the actually electric motorcycle but a designed “noise maker.”  This is required at Pikes Peak due to the fact that electric vehicles are not as loud as gas vehicles. This makes it so that people and officials know what is coming up the mountain. 

Joe Prussiano (Ohio State) – Pikes Peak

In an interview at the end of the video Joe Prussiano commented, “There were some gremlins.” with the electric motorcycle. Unsure what they were as he didn’t go into specifics but it sounds like maybe the bike was getting too hot on the course.

Still Prussiano finished with a time of 11:12.756 averaging 64.213 mph on the Pikes Peak course.  Not bad considering he replaced Rob Barber who was injured during a practice lap and was brought in as a replacement rider at the last minute.  The time means they finished second behind Yoshihiro Kishimoto and Mirai who were first in the Electric Modified Bike class.  Granted they were the only two entries I see in the Electric Modified Bike category at Pikes Peak this year.