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OEMs Plug into Electric Bikes

Sat, 01 Nov 2008

KTM introduced its prototype electric motorcycle earlier this week, and electric bike manufacturer Zero Motorcycles almost immediately responded by opening sales on its 2009 Zero X dirt bike (look for our review of the 2008 model next week!). But these two companies aren’t the only ones exploring the possibilities of electric-powered motorcycles.

In September, Japan’s largest industrial information journal Nikkei Business Daily reported that both Honda and Yamaha have set target dates for launching their own electric-powered motorcycles.

Yamaha is reportedly aiming to launch its electric bike by 2010. According to the Nikkei Business Daily, it will have a range of about 60 miles on a single charge and is comparable to 50cc motorcycles.

Honda meanwhile is looking to launch its lithium-ion battery-powered motorcycles in 2011. The Nikkei Business Daily says Honda is targeting Japan’s postal service which may be looking for an alternative to replace its fleet of 90,000 motorcycles.

Even BMW is looking into producing an electric motorcycle. BMW Motorrad President Hendrik von Kuenheim mentioned the idea in a speech at Intermot.

“In the coming years we can envision that – apart from the combustion engine – the electric drive could be implemented in a new vehicle concept at an acceptable price combined with an acceptable range,” said von Kuenheim.

Some of MOrons on the forum haven’t sounded too impressed about electric motorcycles, with some wondering about how fast they could go and whether we’ll be switching from paying high gas prices to high electricity bills. And I’m sure the “loud pipes save lives” followers will question the safety of quiet-running electric bikes.

One things for sure though, the OEM that makes the first big splash in producing a clean, efficient, powerful and fun to ride electric bike will have a strong grip on this new and developing class of motorcycles.

By Dennis Chung

See also: Honda Likes to Dress Up, BMW Standardizes Switches, “The Retriever” is Swedish for Tow Bike.