British Electric Motorcycle company merges with Agni Motors [VIDEO]

Saietta

Agility Global and Agni Motors have merged to create a new company called the Saietta Group.  The newly formed company consists of several different units that includes;

  • Saietta Engineering, which develops and manufactures new, innovative electric motors, generators, controllers and complete drivetrains.
  • Saietta Motorcycles, which builds and develops electric motorcycles to be sold to consumers.
  • Saietta Racing, the testing arm for Saietta motorcycles and electric drivetrain products which are tested in arduous race conditions.  The racing unit also sells specialized race motorcycles, motors and motor controllers.

The company also provides electric drivetrains across other vehicle sectors and manufacturers components in a special economic zone in India.

Saietta Group is now based in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom at an ex-RAF (Royal Air Force) base which gives the company access to 20 miles of private test tracks in addition to proximity to leading automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), F1 brands and their first tier suppliers.  The location gives Saietta readily available access to technology partners.

Saietta and Agni Motors?

If this news doesn’t make sense, or you haven’t heard of these companies before, here is bit of context. Agni Motors is best known for their highly efficient DC electric motors and it’s eccentric founder, Cedric Lynch. Agni and Lynch won the Isle of Man TT Zero race, which is a category just for electric motorcycles, in 2009 and won the first E-Grand Prix at the Isle of Man circuit.  Saietta is a British electric motorcycle company that’s had their Saietta R prototype in development for quite some time.  Agility Global, the owners of Saietta, started a team to compete in the TT Zero race in 2013.  The Saietta R is pretty hard to miss with it’s oddly tall shape for a motorcycle which is to hold electric batteries.

 Saietta Video

Following the merger of Agility Global and Agni Motors, newly-formed Saietta Group today set out its vision to be a leader in the transformation of vehicles away from internal combustion engines to highly efficient electric drivetrains. Saietta intends to shake up sectors including cars, scooters, motorcycles and tuk tuks, with electric drivetrains that surpass what can be achieved with internal combustion engines.

Confusing Business Plan & Domain Names

What doesn’t make sense to me, the company’s business plan.  Is the main focus of this British electric motorcycle company to build bikes, be a electric drivetrain and component consultancy, or something else?  If you read the press release regarding this announcement below you get an idea of what I’m talking about.

It doesn’t even seem clear that Saietta knows what is wants to do. This is evident from the fact in the multiple domain names the company owns.  If you visit Saietta.com it forwards to SaiettaGroup.com, which is a nicely designed website.  However, you click on “Saietta Engineering” this takes you to a different domain name, SaiettaEngineering.com and the same thing for Saietta Motorcycles and Saietta Racing. Who the F$@! had this idea?  This only servers to confuse consumers, journalists, and anyone else visiting the website. Also all the sites have the same templates with little in the way of other information or clickable pages.

The way Saietta setup the domain name structure is reminiscent of Mission Motors.  They had several different domain names and it seemed liked the company wasn’t clear if they built motorcycles or offered electric vehicle consulting services.  Of course we are not sure if Mission Motorcycles is operational and still in business at this point.  The company also had been in development for their electric motorcycles, the Mission and Mission RS, for quite sometime. Rumors have swirled recently they were sold to Harley-Davidson when since they were consultants on building the Livewire, the company’s prototype electric motorcycle.

Is this good for the Electric Motorcycle Industry?

Only time will tell.  The announcement is a bit of a surprise but makes sense that two companies would merge to pool development resources and skills.  In my opinion Agility and Saietta are getting the better end of the deal bringing on Cedric Lynch who has a more solid reputation in the industry at this point.  At least for people that are in the know with electric vehicle technology.  (I don’t really consider myself one of these people I just write occasionally about it, in case you were wondering.)

The problem I see is there are already lots of electric vehicle and drivetrain specialists and companies you can go to.  It is not clear how Saietta differentiates itself besides with Lynch and the TT Zero wins.  Is that enough?  Also the details of the development of the Saietta R and how many the company has sold has not been discussed.  Is there a marketing plan and timeline for selling them? We don’t know.

What are your thoughts about this merger?  Do you have any opinions about Saietta or Agni Motors?

Saietta – Pure Power [Press Release]

BICESTER, England

Saietta Group today set out its vision to be a leader in the transformation of vehicles away from internal combustion engines to highly efficient electric drivetrains.

In a clear statement of intent, Saietta revealed a teaser image of a ground-breaking, high-performance electric motorbike that’s set to spearhead a new era for riders.

Code-named NGS (Next Generation Saietta), it will be the first in a family of bikes from the newly-named Saietta Group, following the recent merger of Agility Global and Agni Motors.

“Saietta intends to shake up vehicle sectors including cars, scooters, motorcycles and tuk tuks, with electric drivetrains that surpass what can be achieved with internal combustion engines. NGS demonstrates our core competence in design, engineering, integration and manufacture in this field,” says Lawrence Marazzi, Saietta Group Co-Founder.

“Saietta R was our 8th and last generation of prototype. NGS takes us to a whole new level with technological step-changes across the bike delivering electrifying performance, unmatched range, extensive personalisation options and a highly distinctive, iconic presence. NGS is an exclusive, premium priced flagship for the Group, showcasing precisely what Agility and Agni are capable of as a newly merged entity.”

Arvind Rabadia, Saietta Group Co-Founder, adds: “We have a family of electric motors which are highly efficient, lightweight and compact, delivering class-leading power-to-weight ratios and levels of efficiency, making them ideal for vehicles. Our motors have powered over 80% of the winning electric racebikes globally, set electric powerboat world speed records and even powered the first manned electric helicopter!”

“After over a century of making small refinements to the internal combustion engine, vehicles are well overdue a step-change to a more efficient, cost effective and sustainable electric future. We will release more information on NGS over the coming months and interested parties can receive exclusive updates by signing up to our newsletter at saietta.com.”

50 US Police Departments love riding Electric Motorcycles [VIDEO]

Zero Motorcycles

Motorcycle police officers apparently love riding electric motorcycles.  There are now over 50 US police departments that currently have a Zero SP, Zero DSP, or Zero FXP police electric motorcycle operational in their fleets.  These models are specifically designed for use with police departments and come with all the bells and whistles a sworn officer would expect.

One the main advantages that many motorcycle enthusiasts don’t like about electric bikes, the low amount of noise that an electric motorcycle makes, is a big positive for police departments.  This gives many officers a tactical advantage when patrolling since suspects can’t hear them coming.  It also reduces the amount of noise pollution.

The other advantage is that the motorcycle can be ridden indoors as it doesn’t produce noxious Co2 emissions.  The total cost of ownership overtime from not using gas and less maintenance means the bikes also are less expensive to maintain for departments in the long term.

Zero Motorcycles – Police Models

Over 50 Police Departments Now Ride Electric Motorcycles [Press Release]

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., May 26, 2015 — Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that the number of police departments in the USA using the company’s 100% electric motorcycles has surpassed 50. Zero offers three models of police motorcycles—the Zero SP, Zero DSP and Zero FXP—to meet the specific requirements of law enforcement.

“This is a milestone for us, as more agencies embrace the benefits of Zero Motorcycles,” said Kevin Hartman, North American fleet sales director for Zero. “When compared to traditional police motorcycles, our patrol bikes have a lower total cost of ownership, are easier to maintain and—with minimal noise and no exhaust—are a vehicle for good community relations.”

The lack of noise produced by the motor is proving to be a tactical advantage for patrol officers.

“This motorcycle is so quiet that we continuously sneak up on wildlife and suspects while out on patrol, and we continue to receive positive feedback from the public,” said Officer Steve Carbajal of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Off-Road Unit.

“Because the motorcycles are electric, officers may arrive on scene without disruption and come across a crime in progress without being detected,” said Amy (Armstrong) Luna of the Fresno State University Department of Public Safety.

With over 600 sworn officers, the Cobb County Police Department is already benefiting from their recently added Zero motorcycles. “They have been a great addition. Officers are excited to use them, and the positive response from the public has been overwhelming,” said Sgt. James D. Fincher of the department’s Ranger Services. “We currently use them to patrol the 77 parks within the Cobb Countyparks system, along with patrolling the 13-mile Cobb section of the Silver Comet Trail (a heavily traveled, 61-mile paved trail stretching from the Atlanta area to the GeorgiaAlabama border). The ease of use, positive public relations and downright fun has proven invaluable to our department.”

Zero’s police motorcycles are fully electric and designed exclusively for police and security departments as a cost effective means to patrol a wide variety of terrain and areas with noise and pollution limitations, including indoors. Patrol models are fully equipped with pursuit emergency lighting and sirens, safety components, and functional storage options to carry gear, patrol items, and emergency medical equipment.

“Our Zero motorcycle makes a significant contribution to our continued efforts to promote environmental sustainability, while providing all the positive features of traditional motorcycles,” said Sgt. Paul Parizek of Des Moines, Iowa, P.D.

Information on the complete line of police motorcycles is available at http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/fleet/. Law enforcement agencies interested in purchasing or leasing Zero’s police motorcycles may contact fleet sales directly athttp://www.zeromotorcycles.com/fleet/police/contact/.

Omeed Badkoobeh Interview – Sales & Marketing for the Electric Motorcycle Industry

Omeed Badkoobeh

Omeed Badkoobeh currently serves as the sales and marketing chief for Evoke Motorcycles, a Chinese electric motorcycle company based in Beijing.  He also handles social media and the user experience for new motorcycle company.

Omeed is using his experience working in sales for Tesla, the most successful electric car company to date, in the United States to better promote electric motorcycles in Asia.

To get a better idea of what Evoke is trying to accomplish,  Omeed’s background, and the Chinese electric vehicle market we decided to sit down and do an interview with him.

Electric Motorcycle Club – So Omeed, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Omeed Badkoobeh – I am an American but of mixed background. I have lived in 4 different countries and traveled to over two dozen. I really enjoy traveling and learning about different ways of life around the globe. I see the world shrinking and people coming together from all backgrounds now more than ever. I have been living in China for a total time of 3 years with a great deal of travel back and forth. I come from a background in solar energy where I designed and sold systems for homes and business. More recently, I worked in sales for Tesla Motors. My wife and I decided to relocate to China where her field of work is very preferable and I can focus on an entrepreneurial initiative. I have had an entrepreneurial bug inside of me ever since I was a small child and I needed a space to reach this potential.

EMC  – What got you interested in electric vehicles?

OB – I have always been passionate about electric transportation and it truly goes hand and hand with the advancement of renewable energy. They sell each other. Some may ask why I left a job at Tesla to work on a start-up developing electric motorcycles. The answer is simple. While electric cars are great and the Model S is an amazing piece of machinery, it can be very inefficient with only one or two passengers. Imagine that you are propelling over 2 tons of weight to make a grocery store stop. The highest cost in electric vehicles is the battery. Our Urban S100 model has 1/10 the battery of a Tesla Model 70D, so you are getting from point A to B much more efficiently. The problem however lies with the preserved danger of riding two-wheeled transport in most countries. The main reason that electric two-wheeled transport has done so well in China and Taiwan is that they are actually safer to ride than other places, specifically the U.S. I know that this might sound crazy to hear, but it is simply a question of numbers. Chinese car drivers are generally more aware of two-wheeled commuters and most cities have planned specific lanes for them. Before all the cars, a great deal of people commuted with bicycles. This is very different in other countries that have to work backwards in creating safer two-wheeled transport systems. This issue most be addressed by governments that are serious about making a positive environmental impact.

EMC  – So you use a bike to get around Beijing?

OB – In China, my main mode of transportation is a scooter that I modified to have more power and a higher top speed.

EMC  – What’s been the most interesting cultural differences or shock you’ve experienced as an American living in China?

OB – Living in China, everyday is a learning experience. My biggest shock has been learning how to adjust to Chinese driving culture, stinky tofu, and the busy subways.

EMC – About Evoke Motorcycles, why did you want to get involved with an electric motorcycle company?

OB – I initially set out to create a business to export higher end scooters to other markets. I soon meet Nathan and decided to work together on Evoke with a focus on motorcycles.

EMC – Does anyone think you are crazy for getting involved in the electric bike industry?  The market is huge in China but it still seems like a risky venture.
OB – Working at a start-up is always risky and not everyone is into taking big risk, however most people have been supportive.

EMC – What are the advantage to use electric motorcycles over gas powered motorcycles?

OB – Brushless electric motors are more than 90% efficient in transferring stored energy into motion vs the internal combustion engine which generally have a 25-30% efficiency in turning gasoline into motion. No fumes, no smells, very little sound, what is not to like.

EMC – Why do you think electric scooters are so much popular in China and Asia?  In other countries, especially North America, it’s hard to find many for sale or available.

OB – I had wondered this same question for long time. Electric scooters are awesome, why haven’t taken they off in other countries. I have narrowed it down to two main reasons. First, until recently, most electric scooters on the Chinese market were too slow and not powerful enough. Recently, more manufacturers have developed faster and more powerful units by increasing the voltages and switching to lighter lithium ion batteries. Second is government policy and public acceptance. Most Chinese cities have special lanes for bikes and electric scooters. This make riding much safer and efficient. In the smaller, more rural places, cars have learned how share the road with bikes and scooters. Chinese have a history of using bicycles for all sorts of transportation.

EMC – Is it difficult to find places to charge an electric vehicle in China?

OB – It can be more difficult to find charging in bigger cities, however, electric motorcycles and scooters are far easier to charge than cars. Any standard outlet will do. Most people charge at home or their work place.

EMC – What experiences are you using from working at Tesla to help you with building electric motorcycles?

OB – Our development path is very similar to Tesla. The Urban S100 is built on an existing rolling chassis and we are outfitting our technology into it. Of course, our plan is to build motorcycles from the ground up.

EMC – Being an American, what’s your view of selling electric motorcycles in the United States? Do you think there is a market and can you be successful?

OB – We are currently in the research stage. The U.S is a great option because the Urban S competes well with other 150cc motorcycles and is almost half the price of other electric motorcycles on the market.

EMC – What’s a book that’s had a profound affect on you, helped your, or changed your outlook on life?

OB – I recently read “Chinese Rules” by Tim Clissold. It is a great book for someone who wants to better understand China. The author does a great job explaining the Chinese perspective in context with historical events. It made me have a greater understanding and appreciation for China.

EMC – Do you have any advice, personal of professional, that you’d like to share? It could be something you’ve learned or something that someone taught or told you that helped your in your life.
OB – We are all connected in some way or another to everyone else on this planet. Spend your time searching for similarities rather than differences and you will generally be a happier person.

END OF INTERVIEW

We want to thank Omeed for taking the time to answer our questions and do this interview for Electric Motorcycle Club sharing his insight. If you want to read more about Evoke Motorcycles you can also check out our interview with Nathan Siy, the founder.

Do you have questions for Omeed?  Perhaps on something I did not ask or did not elaborate on, or maybe you are curious about a topic we did not discuss.  Feel free to leave a comment below. We will have him come back and answer questions when he is available.

Neal Saiki, Zero Motorcycles founder, crowdfunding for Electric Bike

neal saiki

For those in the electric motorcycle world does the name Neal Saiki ring any bells? It should as Saiki is the founder of the Zero Motorcycles which he started out of his garage in Santa Cruz back in 2006.  The perfect beginnings for any vehicle start-up, especially a Silicon Valley one.

Saiki is no longer with the electric motorcycle company he help found as he left in 2011 to pursue other projects and goals.  Now he is raising money via Kickstarter for his next electric bike venture. We are not talking about electric motorcycles but electric bicycles.

Neal Saiki has been in bicycle and cycling industry for quite awhile. He’s developed bike frames for various manufacturers and has had his own company, Santa Cruz Bicycles, for many years.  The early electric motorcycles he built was partly from this knowledge and experience. He also worked on an electric cargo bike that can be charged with a solar panel with his wife Lisa but it doesn’t seem like that idea went very far.

His latest venture, Karmic Bikes, is an attempt at two industries he knows very well bicycles and electric vehicles.

Karmic Bikes

Saiki is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder of Karmic Bikes along with Hong Quan the CEO.  There are a few problems Karmic is trying to solve.

neal saiki hong quan

While popular in Europe because of high gas prices, the electric bike industry has failed to catch on in the United States.  Karmic Bikes is attempting to change that with an affordable electric bike with some key features highlighted in this video.

“It’s the only rebuildable lithium-ion battery on the market. It’s patented so nobody else has this technology… Our battery pack is small and light and very powerful.  It’s also 48 volts instead of the normal 24 volts or 28 volts which lets the motor operate much more efficiently and cooler.  You get more range and power from the same amount of energy.”

If you have ever looked at prices of an electric bike, aka an electric bicycle, you’ve probably been floored by how much some of them cost.  Decent ones start at least $2,000 and the batteries might only be good for one or two years depending on how much you use it.  Finding a replacement battery can expensive and difficult.  If you can’t buy one or don’t want to that leaves you with just a really heavy bicycle you paid too much money for that you don’t want to ride anymore.  Pretty much an electric bicycle sucks for this reason.

The idea behind the Karmic Koben is that most of the time an electric bicycle is you get a rebuildable battery.  That means you don’t have to worry about finding a replacement battery when the time comes. I assume, but it’s not clear, that getting Karmic to rebuild the battery will reasonably priced.

In addition they’ve tried to solve some of the weight distribution problems plagued by other electric bicycles.  The Koben has a custom designed frame rather than retrofitting an existing frame.

Crowdfunding Campaign

Like a lot of start-ups Neal Saiki and Hong Quan turned to crowdfunding to be able to make the Koben a reality.  Karmic Bikes has been extremeley successful blowing past it’s goal of $195,000.  As I wrote this there are currently 250 backers that have pledged $289,576 dollars.  That’s almost $100,000 more than they were originally hoping to raise.  I’m sure partly Saiki’s reputation in the bicycle industry along with the fact he helped start Zero has helped the Kickstarter campaign.

Electric Bicycles?

Usually we don’t write about bicycles or electric bicycles since this is the electric motorcycle club.  We thought it would be interesting to share what Neal Saiki is working right now and it’s interesting to see him go back to working on bicycles and now electric bicycles.

Karmic Bikes sounds like a good idea and I hope it is successful. I still think electric bikes are a hard sell in America though and I don’t see many people buying them unless prices continue to fall and technology is more accessible.  What are your thoughts about electric bikes? Would you buy one for commuting?

Zero shaves $1,350 across entire Electric Motorcycle Line

2015 zero s

Zero has lowered the pricing across it’s entire line-up by $1,350 in the North American market.  The company cited the decreasing cost of electric batteries for the bike and noted the improved performance of the battery packs.  This means the lowest priced model starts at $8,495 for the Zero FX and goes up to $15,995 for the sporty Zero SR.

Still, I imagine that the price versus range will still keep many potential electric bike riders at bay.  The combined range for a 2015 Zero S ZF9.4 is estimated to be about 87 miles which starts at $11,995. Spend another $2,000 and you get the Zero S ZF12.5 with a 115 miles of range and the PowerTank option ($2,500) gets you a 141 mile city/highway combined mileage range.  That means for $16,500 you get a motorcycle with a range equivalent to most gas powered motorcycles that are usually half as expensive as the Zero S.

Regardless this is great news for electric motorcycle industry and anyone who has been thinking about buying a Zero but has been hesitant about the cost.  Hopefully Zero and other manufacturers will be able to offer better bikes with improved range and features going forward.  Will the decrease in price make you think about purchasing an electric motorcycle?  Or are you going to wait until prices continue to drop?

Zero Motorcycles Lowers 2015 Motorcycle MSRP In North America [Press Release]

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that it is lowering prices by $1,350 across its 2015 model line. Seeing its battery costs fall and energy density increase faster than anticipated as it develops successive model years of high performance electric motorcycles, Zero Motorcycles has decided to deliver this increased value immediately to consumers in North America.

“As leaders in this space we believe it is important to pass on the benefits of improved battery technology and our increased scale to consumers as soon as possible to allow more motorcyclists to experience the thrill of electric,” said Richard Walker, Zero Motorcycles CEO. “We’re not here to do things as they’ve been traditionally done in the motorcycle industry. Making this change mid-season to deliver great value to consumers at industry-leading price points, rather than waiting for 2016, is just the right thing to do.”

Since most distribution partners across the world buy Zero motorcycles based on the US MSRP, Zero will be able to pass on the benefit of these newly announced prices to consumers in their local markets. In Europe, these cost reductions will allow Zero to absorb the currency impact of the weakened Euro without raising prices from their current levels.

“This announcement will benefit the consumer and, of course, further accelerate our growth. We are the acknowledged technology and commercial leaders in the burgeoning electric motorcycle market, and this move positions us well to remain on top,” said Pieter de Waal, Zero Motorcycles VP of Global Sales and Marketing.

The new US MSRP for 2015 Model Zero Motorcycles are as follows:

Model      

ZF2.8

ZF5.7

 ZF9.4 

 ZF12.5

2015 Zero FX    

$8,495

$10,990

2015 Zero DS

$11,995

$13,995

2015 Zero S

$11,995

$13,995

2015 Zero SR

$15,995

*Prices do not include sales tax, destination, freight, set-up, licensing or registration charges. Other charges may apply.

California gives Electric Motorcycle company $1 Million Dollar Grant

electric motorcycles grant

Zero Motorcycles, arguably the most successful electric motorcycle company to date, has just received a $1 million dollar grant from the state of California.  The grant was awarded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) since Zero’s headquarters are in Scotts Valley, which is located in Northern California in Santa Cruz county.  The electric motorcycle company also builds Zero motorcycles in California so it’s an obviously easy grant for the CEC to give the electric motorcycle company.

What is even better than $1 million dollars? Getting $2 million! Investors and backers of Zero will be matching the grant with another $1 million so that means the company is banking an additional $2 million for research and development.  This is good news for Zero as we have seen that Polaris is seriously interested in gaining a foothold in the electric motorcycle market with buyout of Brammo.  Polaris recently announced that Victory Motorcycles will be competing in the Isle of Man Zero TT, which is a race for electric motorcycles on the famed Isle of Man street circuit.  The vehicle conglomerate also trademarked “Victory Charger” which is likely going to be the name of the electric motorcycle they introduce.

I’m sure that Zero Motorcycles was happy to get the money but it’s not entirely clear what exactly what the grant money from the CEC will be used for.  From the press release it seems the funds will go toward research and development in addition to manufacturing at the company’s headquarters.  However in terms of specifics in terms of research and development we are not sure.  Areas for R&D improvement could include a lot of things such as battery technology, electric motor controllers, electric motors, frame development, motorcycle design, etc.

Whatever Zero ends up using the money for we are sure it will be put to good use by the company.  We are glad to see the state of California supporting electric motorcycles as bikes are a lot cooler than electric cars. Am I right? 🙂

[Press Release] – Crafted In California: Zero Motorcycles Receives Major Grant

SANTA CRUZ, Calif – Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that it has been awarded a grant of $1,009,220 from the California Energy Commission (CEC). With matching commitment from Zero, over $2M in funding will be made available to drive the company’s continued research, development and assembly of 100% electric motorcycles at their California headquarters.

“We thrive at the intersection of transportation, technology and energy efficiency,” said Zero Motorcycles CEO Richard Walker. “This generous grant, combined with the confidence of our investors, accelerates our global growth, expands Zero’s local workforce and manufacturing capacity, and will fuel continued innovation across all of our products.”

Zero was founded in Santa Cruz in 2006 and has been pioneering electric motorcycles ever since. Each year, the model line has seen great advancements in performance, range, features and value. Zero motorcycles are proudly “Crafted in California” at the company’s Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz County) headquarters.

“It’s exciting to see Zero Motorcycles grow from a pilot production line we funded to an expanded manufacturing line through this latest grant,” said Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation for the California Energy Commission. “Transitioning from older, higher polluting vehicles to zero emission vehicles—ones with no tailpipe pollution—helps the state meet its clean air, climate, and petroleum reduction goals.”

The California Energy Commission is focused on promoting efficiency and conservation, supporting cutting-edge research, and developing California’s renewable energy resources. Zero is committed to using the CEC grant to expand its production capacity through improvements in its manufacturing line, production efficiency and engineering processes.

“We believe CEC funding is ideally suited for this kind of project as we leverage 21st century California clean-tech manufacturing,” said Kai Hypko, VP of Operations at Zero. “As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity, Zero Motorcycles helps reduce petroleum use, improve air quality and energy efficiency, all while creating more skilled jobs here in California.”

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.

Electric Motorcycles in China – Nathan Siy Interview, Founder Evoke Motorcycles

nathan siy

Electric Motorcycles are a niche market here in United States and other countries.  We recently wrote about a company called Evoke Motorcycles that is wants put more electric motorcycles on the roads in China. The country already has booming sales of electric scooters and other types of electric vehicles so we imagine buying an electric motorcycle isn’t too far of a leap.

Anyway Nathan Siy, the founder of Evoke, was kind enough to do an interview with us. He shares some insights into what it’s like building a vehicle company from the ground-up, what it’s like living in China, and were the technology for electric vehicles currently is.

Electric Motorcycle Club – So Nathan, tell us a little bit about yourself? You are Chinese Canadian correct? How long have you been living in China?

Nathan Siy – That’s right, I’d consider myself more Canadian, but with Chinese heritage. I was raised pretty westernized in Vancouver, Canada, but have enjoyed my time here in Beijing reconnecting with China. I’ve been living here in Beijing on and off since ’03. A short term work contract turned into a whole new chapter of my life.

EMC – What’s been the most interesting cultural differences or shock you’ve experienced as a Canadian?

NS – There are so many, it’s hard to pinpoint the most interesting one. Coming here in the beginning, I was actually pretty shocked that more people didn’t speak English. I tried to get by my first year without learning the local language, which made it insanely difficult living and working here. I actually sort of gave up and went back after my first contract, but came again in ’06 to give it another shot, and have been here ever since.

EMC – About Evoke Motorcycles, how did the company get started and why did you start an electric motorcycle company?

NS – It actually started with a completely different team and evolved into what we have today. It got started with the idea of developing something that we would want to ride ourselves. Throw a stick in Beijing and you’ll probably end up hitting an electric bike, but those bikes that so many people ride here today didn’t have enough power, or safety, or comfort. We begin with the idea of taking what was here, working so well, with electric scooters, and scaling it up to a point that we would be happy with, without breaking the bank. It took quite a few iterations, but I believe we got it right with the Urban S.

EMC – Does anyone think you are crazy for wanting to start Evoke?

NS – My wife thinks I’m a bit nuts. She’s really supportive of developing the business, but automotive companies, and by extent, motorcycle companies are inherently challenging. They take time and a great deal of resource to scale properly. We’ve done a great job so far finding ways to fast prototype and R&D cost-effectively up to this point, and being in China helps to manage logistics and H&R costs. Honestly, if we were elsewhere in the world, we wouldn’t have been able to progress as quick and far as where we are at now.

EMC – Has running tours in Beijing given you an good perspective of what works and doesn’t for travel in an urban environment? Are electric vehicles an adequate replacement for gas powered vehicles?

NS – Running tours here have definitely given me good perspective on what people’s 2 wheeled expectations are, but what has been most useful is renting out our e-scooters. We started doing that in 2012, and I believe that people drive a lot more “true to life” when renting. They usually don’t have a concept of electric power, how to conserve it, etc. They ride it like a gas scooter and from their data, I was able to quantify daily range and “true to life” expectations.

Electric vehicles can be an adequate replacement for urban dwellers providing the vehicle has at least a 60km range. From many of our renters’ experiences, they would empty the battery almost 1.5 times in the course of a day in Beijing. They would charge up at least an hour or 2 during lunch or coffee mid-day, and then be off again in the afternoon. Our average range for our small e-scooters is about 30km, which means someone with no concept of electric vehicles and basically ultimate freedom in the city would travel a daily average of about 45km, which matches a lot of commuter data in other big cities. Buffer in 20% and I believe that with a vehicle range of 60km, it would suit majority of the urbanites transportation requirements.

EMC – What are the advantage to use electric scooters over gas powered scooters? I assume you have lower maintenance costs, right?

NS – There are quite a few “hard advantages” to electric scooters and electric motorcycles over their gas counter parts, such as reduced maintenance, lower operating costs, low noise, but what brought me over to the “dark side” of electric vehicles is hard to verbalize; it’s the fun factor. It’s the sensation of being launched from a slingshot while you accelerate, where the bike snaps you back and continuously pulls for what seems like ages. It’s also the simplicity of just twisting to get you going without all the clunky clutch and shifting and what not. It’s also the peacefulness of the surroundings hugging you and making you one with the city; the unity that feel with your bike, hearing the tires on the ground, the slight hum of the motor, knowing you and your machine are one symbiotic unit.

I’ve been riding motorcycles since I first got my driver’s license, and while they’re fun, there’s also lots to keep you busy with; now that i’m on electric motorcycles, I just realize all that stuff detracted from my 2 wheeled experience.

EMC – What does it cost to charge the scooters?

NS – In China, we’re paying about 0.48 RMB for kWh, so to fill up the Urban S from dead to full would be about 4 RMB ($0.66 USD).

EMC – Currently there are about 12 million electric scooters sold each year and about 9+ million of those are sold in China. It seems the Chinese are more willing to accept electric vehicles from what I’ve read. Why is this? Does it have to do with the air pollution?

NS – The statistics seems about right. The automotive culture, and by extension, motorcycle culture is still relatively new to them. Cars and motorcycles have only been around, at most, 30 years. I believe the country is still in it’s infancy, which makes it easier to “change over” to new technologies quicker.

Another issue would probably be the government’s backing on EVs. Gas motorcycles are slowly being eliminated in the bigger cities, perhaps due to the pollution issue, or licensing. People still need to get around, so that gap is being replaced with electric.

EMC – It seems like the Chinese already are ahead in terms of battery technology and other electric vehicle related tech. I assume you are planning on utilizing this to your advantage. Do you plan to pool local talent and knowledge?

NS – China is surprising ahead of the curve when it comes to battery assembly and we’re fortunate enough to be working with some of the best in China. In basic EV related tech (controllers, DC-DC, etc) China’s on par. What I miss from local companies is electronics and diagnostics. Surprisingly, we haven’t found what we’re looking for yet and have ventured off developing our own.

The local talent pool is somewhat divided and where we lie is somewhere in the middle. On the one end, there are a lot of guys with hands on building experience, which is great for execution and going from concept to prototype, then there are the high end theoretical minds, working for Tesla or Byd. We’re kind of stuck in the middle. As a startup, it’s difficult to attract the high end guys, but we also need several steps up from the hands-on guys as well. We’re continuously looking for local talent to join the team and I’m sure as time goes on, we’ll see more and more mid-level guys coming from different industries into EVs.

EMC – How hard is it to charge an electric vehicle in China? Could I find a place to charge-up if I needed it?

NS – It’s fairly easy. People in China are quite used to the electric scooter industry, and since we utilize a 10A on board charger with a standard plug, it allows us to make use of the “regular” infrastructure. This infrastructure isn’t a traditional one, per say, but it’s the mom and pop shops, restaurants and storefronts, with extension cords charging their own e-bikes that are happy to let someone piggyback on it as they dine in their establishment.

Car charging stations are growing in Beijing, but I’ve only ran into a few. It would require an adapter, but we’ll consider selling one if the demand gets there.

evoke motorcycles

EMC – What electric motorcycles does Evoke Motorcycles currently sell?

NS – We’re currently selling our first model, the Evoke Urban S. We’re planning to develop a series of electric motorcycles utilizing the same power train in a sport body, cafe racer body and finally a relaxed cruiser. It’s still a while away, but we’re hoping to make use of more fast-prototyping methods to get new bikes launched.

EMC – Does Evoke build motorcycles from the ground-up or are you retrofitting motorcycles with a motor, controller, and batteries?

NS – We’re probably closer to retrofitting motorcycles at the moment, but I’d say a few steps up from that. There’s quite a few parts that are designed by us to bring it all together, so it isn’t retrofitting in the traditional sense, but using some motorcycle parts, some ev parts and custom design parts to make the Urban S.

EMC – When do you plan on selling your Urban S? Is the 150cc engine equivalent adequate for Beijing and roads in China?

NS – We’re currently in small production for the China market. Our biggest challenge stateside isn’t the manufacturing, but the DOT process. The 150cc equivalent engine is a bit misleading. We rate it at that due to the output power that a 150cc typically produces and what the Urban S produces, but “seat of the pants” testing leaves the 150cc in the dust, and getting up to speed in traffic is no comparison.

EMC – Any plans to scale production in a factory? Seems like jumping from scooters to motorcycles would not be too hard. Are you looking for investors?

NS – That’s a great question and, honestly, we’re still in figuring things out. Scaling production in a Chinese factory means that we have to have all our ducks in a row to protect ourselves and the brand in the future from possible IP issues. Scaling production in our own facility means lots of capital. Both are difficult choices.

A short term goal that all of us had in mind was exactly that, but with everyone so busy on production and R&D, no one’s had the time to pursue things on the investor front as much as we’d like. I am starting to leave R&D a bit more to the other guys and learn about the business side of things to balance the team out as well.

EMC – Why is your website in English if you are currently only planning on selling in China? Are you planning on importing Evoke motorcycles to the United States and North America at some point?

NS – Haha, it’s was a pretty big pivot we all decided on early in 2015 for the China market. The plan was always to develop and manufacture in China, but where we pivoted was, we wanted to start sales and marketing in Canada and the US, but were faced with quite a lot of challenges that we weren’t ready for yet, such as DOT approval and Transport Canada, so in Jan. 2015, we decided to continue researching the North American market for now until we can find the right people to execute the legalities, marketing and sales there.

EMC – Do you have a Chinese language site?

NS – 正在做。(It means “we’re working on it as we speak) :p

EMC – The first time I heard about electric motorcycles, I thought it sounded lame. What were your thoughts and reaction?

NS – First reactions to EVs in Beijing were electric scooters, and for me, they were life-changing. It wasn’t necessarily the “cool factor” that got me on one; it was more the mobility and freedom in Beijing. But like anything I buy, I simply can’t be happy with stock, so begins the journey. But before coming to Beijing, I actually had no concept of what an electric motorcycle or electric scooter even was.

EMC – What’s been the most challenging aspect of trying to get a vehicle company off-the-ground?

NS – It’s all challenging, equally challenging, but I enjoy the challenge and the process. At the end of the day, getting any company off the ground takes time, but you got to find ways to make it fun while you’re taking the time to get things going.

EMC – What’s a book that’s had a profound affect on you, helped your, or changed your outlook on life?

NS – Hmmm, I haven’t read a book in quite a long time. I like chatting with people or doing stuff with my hands to keep busy, so I haven’t found the time to section off to read a book.

EMC – Do you have any advice, personal of professional, that you’d like to share? It could be something you’ve learned or something that someone taught or told you that helped your in your life.

NS – Something that comes up around the shop a lot is “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I think it has come in handy for several situations when prototyping stuff, testing circuits, or designing the UI. It’s building in redundancies for things that may happen, or preparing for something that could happen that you don’t even know about yet.

END OF INTERVIEW

We’d like to thank Nathan for taking the time to do this interview and answer our questions about Evoke Motorcycles and the market in China for electric motorcycles, well mainly electric scooters.  Do you have any questions for Nathan about Evoke, future plans for the company, the tour business, or anything else? Please leave a comment below and we will try to get him to answer any questions or concerns as soon as possible.

You can learn more about the motorcycles and company here – http://www.evokemotorcycles.com/

Zero Motorcycles starts selling bikes in Italy

2015 zero s

Zero just announced they have entered the Italian market.  The electric motorcycle company now has an Italian version of their website and one official dealership.  We imagine they are working on expanding the dealership network in Italy though and you gotta start somewhere.

The introduction of Zero into the Italian market is a good sign for the electric motorcycle industry overall.  Italy is an important motorcycle market with dominant brands like Ducati, Moto Guzzi, and Aprilia.  Of course scooters are quite popular in Italy being where Vespa was born.  Considering these marquees, will it be hard for some Italians to accept the electrics motorcycles?  We will have to see.  We hopes that Zero intends to stay in the Italian motorcycle market and not pull out from the market like it did in the UK.

The competition Zero will have in Italy regarding electric motorcycles is mainly Energica, an Italian company that is backed by the European conglomerate CRP.  The Energica Ego, the company’s only model, is estimated to sell for $30,000.  This is quite a bit more than Zero’s motorcycle line-up which ranges in price from $9,000-$16,000 depending on options and upgrades of course.

Zero Motorcycles Enters Italian Market [Press Release]

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that its complete line of 100% electric motorcycles is coming to Italy. Detailed information—including specifications, pricing and demo ride scheduling—is available on the company’s newly launched Italian website at http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/it

Zero has been laying the groundwork for its expansion into what export.gov cites as Europe’s largest market for motorcycles over 50cc. “This is a vital step forward in our plans to expand global availability of Zero Motorcycles and an extension of our popularity throughoutEurope,” said Chief Executive Officer Richard Walker. “The Zero brand is particularly strong in Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia andThe Netherlands, and we are seeing strong demand in Italy,” Walker continued.

“With premium componentry on the 2015 motorcycles and increased manufacturing capacity at our California headquarters, we are excited to offer our cutting-edge products to a country that is rich in motorcycle history and vital to the sport,” said Umberto Uccelli, managing director of Zero Motorcycles Europe. “Our motorcycles appeal to discerning customers in Italy. Beyond innovative products, we are making investments to support our growing customer base.”

Zero intends to strategically expand its Italian network and has already appointed its first dealer. Located in the heart of Milan, E-move.me is an e-mobility retailer at Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11 – 20123 and led by Thierry Boch. In addition to sales and service of Zero motorcycles, E-move.me offers rentals.

“Thierry and his team at E-move.me truly believe in our technology and know that encouraging riders to go for a test ride—or rent a Zero motorcycle for the weekend—is the best way to help them experience the advantages of 100% electric power,” said Josef Morat, country manager for Zero Motorcycles Italy.

Victory will race Electric Motorcycle at Isle of Man

 

victory electric motorcycle

Victory Motorcycles announced today that they will be entering the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Zero race with a prototype electric motorcycle.  Victory will be utilizing the technology when they purchased the electric motorcycle company Brammo in the TT Zero race.  The TT Zero race is a class that features only electric motorcycles.

The race bikes will be Brammo’s rebadged with the Victory logo.  Specifically reworked Brammo Empulse RRs but I’m sure the Victory engineers have made some improvements to the bikes for this year’s TT Zero.

Riding the Victory electric motorcycles on the Isle of Man will be Lee Johnston and William Dunlop.  Victory released this video of Johnston talking about his racing background, what it’s like to ride an electric motorcycle, and preparing for the Isle of Man TT.

Victory Motorcycles – Isle of Man

Victory trademarked the name “Victory Charger” and it is likely the company will introduce this electric motorcycle in the summer, after the electric motorcycle race.  We imagine they will use any success at the Isle of Man to help the marketing for the Victory Charger. Of course now this makes people wonder, is the Charger going to be a cruiser motorcycle or a sportbike? Polaris, Victory’s parent company, hasn’t given out too many details yet about what they are doing with electric motorcycles beside the fact they will be definitely be building a model.  We also know that the Victory Charger will be built at the Polaris factory in Spirit Lake, Iowa.  As for other details everyone is going to need to wait until June it seems.

It should be noted this is the first foray Victory and Polaris are making into the world of electric motorcycle racing.  This should be a good test for the company as the 37-miles Isle of Man course is widely considered one of the most intense and grueling race course’s in the world.  Technically the circuit is not a “race track” as it takes place public roads on the tiny island of the Isle of Man, which is off the coast of the United Kingdom. They are closed off for a week of intense racing fun.

With the resources and commitment of Polaris and the talent of riders like Dunlop and Johnston we imagine Victory should be successful at the TT Zero. Good luck to the Victory team at the Isle of Man.

You can read the full Victory Motorcycles press release below.

Press Release

VICTORY MOTORCYCLES TO RACE PROTOTYPE ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE AT THE LEGENDARY INTERNATIONAL ISLE OF MAN TOURIST TROPHY

MEDINA, MN – Victory Motorcycles is announcing their intention to race at the iconic International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) event on a prototype Victory electric race motorcycle.

The prototype electric race bikes will be piloted by William Dunlop of the legendary Dunlop dynasty and by Lee Johnston known in the racing world as “General Lee”.

Victory Racing will compete in the Isle of Man TT electric class, marking the first time that Victory Motorcycles has entered a professional motorcycle-racing event in Europe and raced an electric motorcycle. Parker, the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, is providing the race-proven, high performance GVM PMAC motors for both machines.

“The entire Victory team is excited to make history with this effort,” said Rod Krois, Victory General Manager. “We know that William Dunlop’s experience and the continued Victory Motorcycles development of this electric race bike through work with Parker will propel us into a strong future with electric motorcycles.”

With more than a hundred years of history, the annual International Isle of Man TT, raced on the Irish Sea Island, is one of the most demanding and exciting races in the world. The SES TT Zero Challenge class event for electric motorcycles is a one-lap race round the island’s 37.73 mile Mountain Course scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, 2015.

“I’m more than excited to race this prototype at the Isle of Man,” said professional rider William Dunlop. “Electric powertrains have many advantages, and the Isle of Man is one of the greatest tests in motorcycle racing.”

Professional Rider Lee Johnston will be riding the second entry for Victory Racing at the Isle of Man TT and said, “I’m excited to make history by racing the new Victory electric race prototype. It’s thrilling to be part of the emerging electric motorcycle movement.”
Ben Furnish, Marketing Manager for Parker Hannifin said, “Parker is thrilled to be involved with Victory Motorcycles in this historic event with these talented riders. We look forward to working with Victory to develop high performance powertrains for electric motorcycles. “

The Victory Racing prototype electric race bike features a dedicated electric racing motor and power cells as well as highly sophisticated electric controls to maximize peak power, power delivery, and durability under racing conditions. Victory engineers have further refined the electronics and chassis for the upcoming race with private test sessions in North America.

Motorcycles will host a continuous news feed of updates and photos from the Isle of Man TT and will have more information available on the Victory electric prototype race bike at www.VictoryMotorcycles.com. Be sure to follow Victory on Twitter @VictoryBikes and on Facebook at facebook.com/VictoryMotorcycles for additional updates. To learn more about Parker and their production version of the GVM traction motors visit http://www.parker.com/hev.

About Victory Motorcycles
Victory Motorcycles designs, engineers, manufactures and markets a full line of cruisers, baggers and touring motorcycles. Every Victory model delivers industry-leading performance, comfort, style, storage and reliability. The first Victory was produced on the Fourth of July, 1998, in Spirit Lake, Iowa, where every Victory motorcycle continues to be produced today. Information about Victory motorcycles, apparel and accessories is available at www.VictoryMotorcycles.com

About Parker
With annual sales exceeding $13 billion in fiscal year 2014, Parker Hannifin is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. The company employs approximately 57,500 people in 50 countries around the world. Parker has increased its annual dividends paid to shareholders for 58 consecutive fiscal years, among the top five longest-running dividend-increase records in the S&P 500 index. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.parker.com, or its investor information website at http://www.phstock.com.

Luke Workman – Zero Motorcycles Battery Engineer [VIDEO]

Troy Siaahan over at Motorcycle.com recently sat down with Luke Workman, who is Zero Motorcycles Senior Battery Engineer, to talk about the company’s batteries in it’s electric motorcycles.

Luke Workman Interview

“When I first started in 2011 the bikes carried something like 40 miles of range.” said Workman about the electric motorcycles the company was making. That’s honestly not great but the next generation he helped up the range by a factor of 2, so that means they got 80 miles.  He said the next generation was also improved by a factor of 2 but there are other considerations besides range. Like a better top speed and improve acceleration for a better riding experience.  Let’s be honest though 160 miles would be a nice range for one charge.

Luke Workman also talks about what he thinks of gas engines, how they manage electricity in the bikes, and some battery material they are considering using in the future.