Electric motorcycle development speeds up

Louise Smyth

The way we get around is becoming increasingly electrified. Although eco-friendly transport has been at the top of the agenda for a while now, with Germany voting to ban the combustible engine all the way back in 2016, there is suddenly a deadline in sight for petrol and diesel cars in the UK. 

The government’s original plans to phase out – and ultimately ban – petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles by 2040 has been much debated in the last year. Initial proposals to bring this forward to 2032 were deemed too soon by those in the motoring industry and now we seem to be aiming for a 2035 cut-off point. 

This shifting time limit is having an impact on the motorcycle industry, too. Electric motorbikes are becoming increasingly popular, just in time for the looming ban on non-EVs. 

How much interest is there in electric motorbikes?

There has been a rapid rise in interest in electric motorcycles in recent years. The European Electric Scooter and Motorcycles Market reportedly grew by 47.9 per cent in the year up to August 2019. This is in keeping with the 2018 trend, which saw the sales of electric motorbikes rise by 81.5 per cent. 

The estimated increase in interest in the future is equally positive, with Europe expected to see the fastest growth up to 2027. It’s also expected that in this time period, electric motorcycles will grow globally from 684 thousand units in 2019 to reach 7,919 thousand units. 

It’s clear that demand is growing for electric alternatives to the traditional motorcycle. With the government’s introduction of the plug-in motorcycle grant too, it is clear that there is an incentive for more people to make the switch to electric. 
Add to this the advancement in the technologies used in the creation of batteries, as well as an uptick in performance standards of these electric two-wheelers, and it seems that we could be on track for a 2035 ban on petrol and diesel engines. But is this achievable? 

Although the forecast is looking good for e-motorbikes, there are some significant factors that are potentially holding this growth back. The main issue is that, although production of electric motorcycles is ramping up, we are not ready for the influx of electric. 

There is a shortage of charging ports that can power up the rechargeable batteries. E-motorcycles run efficiently thanks to batteries being charged through an external power source. The lack of charging infrastructure has been pegged as a significant reason for the growth of this vehicle to become stunted. 

Who is building electric motorbikes?

However, while there are reservations about how ready we are for electric motorbikes, it’s clear that the leading brands are convinced enough to press on with plans to create electric models. While pioneering brand Tesla has reenergised the electric car market, there are no plans in the pipeline for Elon Musk’s brand to make the move into motorcycles – which has allowed other big names to take centre stage. 

One of the biggest is the legendary Harley-Davidson, which announced the introduction of LiveWire in 2018. Upon unveiling this electric creation at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, it signalled a shift in production tactics that immediately pitted it against the Energica Eva. 

But it is Zero Motorcycles’ SR/F, which launched in February 2019, that has repeatedly drawn comparisons with Tesla. The Californian brand released both an entry level and premium model, receiving positive reviews across the board. 

This surge in production by the big players in the industry reflects how far electric motorcycles have come and where we are heading in the future. 

Tom Warsop, from motorcycle insurance specialists, Devitt Insurance, agreed: “With mainstream motorcycle manufacturers such as Harley Davidson entering the electric bike arena with LiveWire; and Triumph and Ducati not far behind, it’s clear that the future is electric.

“There’s work to be done on the infrastructure to support widespread use of electric vehicles but with emergence of electric bike manufacturers such as Zero, Energica and Arc, it’s certainly going to be exciting to watch it develop within the motorcycle industry.”

Battery life considerations

For those planning on joining the trend towards e-motorcycles, it’s worth knowing how to get the most out of it. With the battery life and charging points being the main sticking point, focusing on the battery is crucial for electric motorbike owners. 

There are several points to consider when trying to preserve battery life. Firstly, how much throttle are you using? Constant throttle can significantly impact on the battery. It’s also worth considering the riding mode being used and the temperature. 

Preserving the battery life is key to getting the most out of an e-motorcycle. As we move into a time when diesel and petrol engines’ days are numbered, shifting our attention to caring for our electric motorcycles can be key. By placing the focus on this, the future could be bright for travelling by electric. 

Like e-motorcycles? Read about the Arc Vector here

 

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