KTM commits to 2010 mass-production of electric motorcycle

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Buried deep inside KTM’s doom and gloom first quarter 2008/2009 financial results is one item of extremely exciting news: the KTM Zero Emission Motorcycle will enter mass-production next year. Yes, that’s right, a major motorcycle manufacturer will be making a high-performance electric motorcycle in large numbers in 2010.
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The KTM electric motorcycle is a race-ready dual sport with 29.5lb/ft
of torque. That may not sound like much, but at just 90kg (198lbs), it
weighs 7kg less than KTM’s own 125cc enduro. That’s the torque of a 250cc two-stroke — all of which will be available from 1rpm — wrapped
up in a package that’s lighter than a 125. The lithium ion batteries
give the electric KTM a range of about 40 minutes under “race
conditions.”

But it’s not just the performance that we’re excited about; it’s the noise,
more specifically the complete lack of it. Electric dirt bikes, since
they don’t emit harmful gasses and run silently, will be able to access
areas hitherto inaccessible to motorized vehicles and will help
preserve what access still exists. KTM even envisions the return of
motorcycle racing to built up areas or even city centers, all thanks to
this motorcycle.

Of course, this isn’t the first electric motorcycle to go on sale. The
Quantya Strada is a road legal enduro, the 2009 Zero X is a high performance
dirt bike and the Vectrix VX-1 is an electric scooter. What makes the
KTM so special is that it’ll be the first from a major factory, coming
complete with the affordable prices, warranty, after sales support,
common parts usage and availability of a mass-production machine.

The full text of KTM’s announcement reads:

“Other Events In the first quarter of 2008/09 the prototype of the KTM
Zero Emission Bike, a noiseless and emission-free Enduro motorcycle,
was presented. KTM sets another important step for future developments
with this new drive concept. Mass production is planned for 2010.”

KTM

  • mototom

    Very exciting news but in some aspects unfortunate as the entry of KTM and subsequently other major mfgs into the electric arena could spell the end of the emerging players….unless they are licensing their technology or r&d capability to the biggies.
    Its hard to beat scale and volume in the manufacturing and marketing game. STill, this is a truly exciting development.

    • modelasian

      I agree that it will be sad if this kills the Zero X. That company just seems so earnest, smart and worthy of support.
      On the other hand, if Toyota comes up with an electric Supra, or Honda makes an electric NSX, hell, if Chevy can juice the Volt into an electric Vette, I wouldn’t cry over the loss of the Tesla. That company seems to embody the crass over-hype vaporware of the dot bomb.

  • Redleg

    Ask the Red Bull US Rookie Cup kids what a KTM “commitment” is worth…

  • Peter

    This is great news for the electric bike market, especially the off-road crowds. Minimal footprint, silence, little risk of “forest fires”, etc.

    Also – don’t forget the Brammo Enertia. It is slated to be in full blown production in the next month or two…Different application, but same ideas.

  • Pete

    40 minutes? That’s nothing. Unfortunately everything sounds great, but when it comes to riding, I ride longer than 40 minutes. Think about this, get up in the morning, unplug your bike, Ride it for probably a 1/2 hour (when the batteries get memory). Then guess what, plug it back in to charge for another 6-8 hours. Yippee… it will spend more time plugged in than on the dirt.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      The manufacturers realize this and are exploring alternatives. Bob Lutz calls it “Range Anxiety.”

      Here’s two ideas from the car world:

      1. Swappable batteries: have extra batteries on hand so you can swap in fully charged ones quickly and easily when the originals are depleted.

      2. Range extenders: an on-board fuel-cell or engine is used to power the electric motor once the batteries run out.

      The latter is finding favor in the car world as it’s somewhat future-proof. That on-board generator can be a small gas engine, biodiesel, hydrogen fuel-cell, whatever. The former might be more practical on smaller, lighter dirt bikes.

  • 1fatRider

    Totally cool! I’d sell my KTM 525 for one of these if they pan out. I’m looking around for a smaller bike anyway.

    But these electric bikes seem more destined for the track than an enduro environment. I’d hate to be let down out in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. They had better put a reliable range gauge, even an low-batt alarm, maybe a spare battery onboard – remember, thats what the reserve gas valve setting is for and I’ve used it many times.

    It’s too bad that an Austrian company is about to eat an American company’s lunch… Hopefully Zero will get their act together and dominate the segment…

  • http://www.evc.gg Mark

    No memory issues with li cells. But they do need a very reliable battery monitor system.

    Should be awesome.

  • Robert Ettleman

    Solar panels as part of the bikes skin?

  • peter

    Regarding actual time spent riding, I may be a wus, but I have been riding dirt bikes seriously for 27 years and that includes enduros and motocross.

    The other day my buddy with a new computer made a noteworthy comment. He said that his bike computer tracked how much time we actually spent with the motor running and compared it to how long the “ride” lasted.

    We “rode” for three hours, but the bike was running for only an hour and a half. We spent half the time with the motor off.

    Now you all are probably saying that I am just not hard core enough, but this was not a race, but rather a goof off ride.

    Based on that data, the Zero X would be good for almost a four hour ride.

    Pete

  • http://electricscootersworld.com/ Elaine Ganley

    Looks nice … Sounds like some good technologies at work here. Electric Motorcycles are nearly silent, zero-emission electric motor-driven vehicles. Very high fuel economy equivalents can be derived by electric motorcycles. Operating range and top speed suffer because of limitations of battery technology. Fuel cells and petroleum-electric hybrids are also under development to extend the range and improve performance of the electric motors. For that price range, I would take a zero X – may not be huge but would give you some extra carriage capacity.

  • Rocky

    We dabble in electric RC truck racing and all I can tell you is that battery and electric motor technology is advancing very fast.
    If you aren’t impressed with the numbers you read today just wait a year…they will only get better. I look forward to owning one someday, and keeping our sport alive.
    One more thought…mass centralized 198lbs. No gas tank, pipe, air box, shifter, clutch…..how about listening to your favorite tunes :)

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  • Andy G

    I’m just waiting to see the first ‘camel back fuel cell range extender’ makes you the hot water for your tea or coffee and doubles tour range…..