Alex Blackburne looks into how a new model line of electric motorcycles, described as “truly game changing”, could be the first steps towards a sustainable travel uprising next year.
Electric motorcycle developer, Zero Motorcycles, announced earlier this month that its new 2012 model line will be “faster, go further and, in the spirit of all two wheeled enthusiasts, be more fun than ever before”.
The Californian company, who are one of the world leaders in electric motorcycle innovation, say that the new models are capable of achieving over 100 miles on one charge, whilst also hitting speeds of up to 88 mph.
The improved performance is down to a newly-designed power pack, which comes with a different, more efficient battery cell configuration and 95% better energy storage.
The 2012 model line has been described by Scot Harden, vice-president of global marketing at Zero Motorcycles, as the “first time in history” that an electric motorcycle had such speed, endurance and efficiency capabilities.
Meanwhile, Edwin Belonje, Zero Motorcycles’ European managing director, said the bikes “[set] new standards in range, performance and style” and offer a “cleaner alternative to a traditional petrol powered vehicle”.
Given the ever-increasing cost of fuel, electric cars and motorcycles have become more popular in recent years. With technology improving all the time, as well as improved recharging facilities, this mode of transport is becoming ever more practical as well.
Electric motorcycles in particular, are favourable with those who are environmentally-responsible, because of the relatively cheap running costs, the almost complete lack of noise and, as Zero Motorcycles’ new 2012 line proves, the performance is often not sacrificed.
The Committee on Climate Change produce an annual progress report called Meeting Carbon Budgets and in its 2011 edition labelled electric vehicles as “the key to longer-term emissions reductions”.
As with most electric vehicles, some people have met the development of electric motorcycles with scepticism. The main argument against their use is that despite improved charging facilities, it’s still not completely practical to run an electric car. There are not enough resources across the country to make it worthwhile and a lot of time is still spent charging them on each occasion.
Furthermore, with the noise of electric motorcycles being next-to-none, it’s going to become increasingly difficult for riders to be noticed by car drivers, which could lead to more road accidents.
Then there’s the issue of fossil fuels. Regular, non-electric vehicles obviously derive their fuel from fossil fuels, but there is a common misconception that electric vehicles source their energy from clean, renewable sources. 90% of UK electricity production in 2011 comes from non-renewable sources, down from 93% in 2009 (October 2011, DECC).
So whilst this may be true for some charging points, 90% are still going to be powered by fossil fuels, and there might be a valid argument as to whether electric vehicles are worthwhile at all.
In truth, we’re still a long way off achieving the sales figures needed for electric vehicles to make a real difference in the fight against climate change. The RAC Foundation said earlier this year that just 215 electric cars were bought during the second quarter of the Government’s Plug-In Car Grant scheme.
But with an increasing amount of companies offering electric motorcycles – some of the leaders include Modenas, Brammo, Vectrix and Mission Motors – as well as ever-increasing performance and practicality of the vehicles, the future looks bright for two-wheeled sustainable transport.
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Picture source: Zero Motorcycles