“I bought my motorcycle at Best Buy,” is a sentence I bet you never thought you’d utter. And yet, that may be exactly what you do in the near future, if you were to buy an Enertia electric motorcycle from Brammo.
Along with the comic book sound effect name, Brammo has put a lot of thought into this bike. And they have answers for the questions people may have about them. Like the fact that regular motorcycles are already a lot more efficient then automobiles. True, twice as efficient, they acknowledge. And up to 15 times the emissions of them as well. That’s something I’d never heard before.
Addressing the deeper question of evenly comparing the environmental impact, they mention that on the gasoline based side, there’s the transport of the fuel to stations, and on the electric based side, there’s the emissions of the possibly coal and nuclear powered facility on the other end. I can appreciate their going beyond merely saying the vehicle itself has no emissions, end of story.
So how do they compare?
It’s not clear, to me. And other non scientifically/mechanically minded people, I imagine. The graph on “Well-To-Wheels Efficiency” gives no context as to what the figures mean, or how they came to them. It looks like it should be impressive, but without reference as to what it means, it’s mostly meaningless. If they’re going to be selling to people at Best Buy, I’m guessing that means some that aren’t deep motorcycle enthusiasts. So quick, clear, obvious comparisons are advised.
This page comparing CO2 emissions does a much better job. In a nutshell, your average motorcycle emits 140.4 grams per kilometer. An Enertia, 21.8, and a Prius 130.4. This, factoring in, “The data presented here assumes that a large portion of the electricity used in the Enertia is generated from powerplants running a coal furnace.”
All well and good, until you encounter the price. $11,995. According to Brammo there will be a 10% federal tax credit. And yet, for this fairly petite motorcycle, stylish as it is, that’s still a fairly steep price if you’re trying to wean people off their cars and on to a motorcycle. While not quite hitting the premium motorcycle price point, it’s still a fairly large up front expenditure. Long term, factoring in fuel savings, perhaps?
Factor in that it has a top speed of 50 mph, not fit for any freeway driving, and I’m not so sure Brammo will make it much beyond the starting line as a company. I’d really like to see companies such as these succeed, but until they offer an option that’s either robust enough for the money, or affordable for being a commuter motorcycle, it’s going to be a tough road to go, especially in this budget conscious economy.
Readers: What’s your take on this? I’d like to hear from current motorcyclists especially. Am I off base, or is there still work to be done for electric motorcycles such as these to be a viable force in the market? Comment below please.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.