Plug-in Electric Motorcycles Following Tesla’s Footsteps

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Zero MotorcyclesThere has been a great deal of talk and excitement about the electrification of transportation that is expected to occur over the next few years. The Prius proved to everyone that electric technology can work as well as or better than only gas power. Now, companies such as Tesla and Mission Motors are proving that high-performance and electric not only belong in the same sentence but that these terms are increasingly becoming synonymous.

How far along are we? Its already common to see Teslas’ quietly cruising around many parts of California and partially electric bicycles are becoming an increasingly regular sighting.

Yesterday, while walking around a residential neighborhood in San Francisco, I noticed a motorcycle that had a slightly different appearance than most bikes and gravitated closer to confirm my initial impression. A sleek white battery casing with the words Zero Motorcycles had replaced the gas powered engine. This all-electric motorcycle, produced by a Santa Cruz, California company and built in Scotts Valley, California is called the Zero-S and is already available and selling for around $9,000.

Zero MotorcyclesAccording to the driver, the motorcycle is capable of two hours of city travel (about 50 miles) on a single charge. Not enough for a long-distance cruise but certainly good enough to get around town or to and from work. The motorcycle is a plug-in and can charge via a 110 volt electrical outlet common everywhere in the US. For a full recharge it takes about 4 hours. For a quicker charge, the motorcycle can also use a 220 volt outlet, the type of outlet commonly used for clothes dryers. Based on the cost of electricity across the US, a recharge will run about $0.40 which puts the cost per mile driven at less than $0.01. To see the full spec sheet, click here.

A quick conversation with the driver of the electric motorcycle revealed that he was new to electric motorcycles but that the ride was not so different from a gas powered bike.

“The power is great for the hills of San Francisco and the acceleration is comparable to what I would expect from a gas-powered bike.”

He also liked the experience of the silent ride where “all you hear is the sound of the tires on the pavement.” His main hang-up with the bike?

“I’ve been riding for a long time and for me, if a bike can’t exceed 150 miles per hour, it doesn’t perform up to my expectations.”

While the Zero S motorcycle does not meet this criteria, it tops out at closer to 55 miles per hour, it is meant to “take on urban environments and encourage the occasional detour.”

For city dwellers or those who do not travel via freeways to work or school, the Zero S will meet or exceed the legally allowable speed limit in just about every city area of the United States. Although some motorcyclists will echo the call for a higher top speed, those who want emission-free, low-cost transportation with a greatly reduced chance of speeding tickets will rejoice that one more option exists for two wheel enthusiasts and that option is available all across the US today.

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  • http://twitter.com/technopropres technopropres

    les motos électriques à la mode ! Après le record (267km/h) http://bit.ly/13Ch8f voici la Zero-S de Tesla, 9000$ http://bit.ly/8zCyrp

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://www.openlybalanced.com Jess @ Openly Balanced

    Ooh, I would love one of these. The 50 mile range and 55mph speed is perfect for me. Personally, I don’t think I’d want to go 150mph on a motorcycle! Can you imagine how loud it would be when a bug hit your helmet?

    That being said, we have to get our electricity clean – a bunch of electric vehicles charging with coal-powered electricity isn’t going to solve anything.

  • Jared

    It seems like a lot of people would be happy with a motorcycle that tops out at 55mph, parents are one of the best examples that come to mind.

    To your point about clean electricity, I totally agree that clean electricity is better than coal. However, many states use coal as a part of their energy mix and not as the sole source so in the many situations electricity in vehicles will come from a mixture of energy sources which pollute less than gas.

    You might find this same argument interesting if framed a different way, i.e. National Security rather than the environment. In the National Security argument, coal beats gas any day of the week as the US has the largest reserves of coal in the world. Hence, the more our vehicles are powered by electricity which comes from coal, the less money we would have to send to Saudi Arabia ($110 million/day), Venezuela ($110 million/day), Nigeria ($95 million/day) and other countries for their gas. Now if we can only figure out how to make “clean coal” a reality…

    To see the stats on world coal reserves check out the EIA link below. They have great data on many forms of energy. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=7&aid=6

  • http://www.openlybalanced.com Jess @ Openly Balanced

    Unfortunately, the national security framing doesn’t work in my mind. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. If we don’t fix this from an environmental standpoint (and coal is not a solution there), we are going to see disruption on a global scale that will render utterly unrecognizable national security as we understand it today.

    I do agree with you about a mix though – transitioning to electric vehicles, even when powered by a mixture of energy sources, is an improvement over gas. But I think some risk lies in transitioning to electric vehicles and then feeling like sufficient action has been taken if the sourcing issue remains unaddressed.

    And I wish my parents would get on board with this :D. Instead I think they would be horrified that I was driving a motorcycle. I can hear my dad now, “But where are the AIRBAGS?!”

  • http://tinyurl.com/waterpowered waterpoweredcar

    Get a Hydrogen hybrid Conversion installed in the SF Bay Area for $1600 for most cars and small trucks. These are HOD (hydrogen on demand) nothing is stored. Gas or Diesel on hybrid or not. Plus you get a tax credit for installing hybrid hydrogen upgrades. 35%-60% gains. Talk to @hybridwatercar on twitter or tinyurl.com/waterpowered