The big question hanging over electric motorcycle startups has been: if the products take off, what’s to stop major manufacturers like Honda from coming in and stealing the market away with large-scale production efficiencies and established distribution networks? Now, that question has an answer, because now Brammo has access to a manufacturing and supply chain that spans 30 countries and four continents. Today, the Oregon-based electric motorcycle maker is announcing a strategic partnership with one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world, Flextronics.
Headquartered in the tax haven of Singapore, most of Flextronics' executives are actually based in California. That, combined with the above-mentioned manufacturing centers in 30 countries makes it a truly global company. Unless you work with electronics manufacture, you probably haven’t heard of them, but you likely own one of their products. Flextronics produces the Zune and XBox360 for Microsoft; digital cameras and service kiosks for Kodak; Hewlett-Packard printers; Motorola phones; RIM phones; Sony-Ericsson phones; Lenovo computers; Sun Microsystems network components; components for Apple computers and now, Brammo’s electric motorcycles.
Been wondering how the 100mph+ Brammo Empulse could start at just $9,995 (before tax breaks)? This deal’s been in the works for a while now and it's the large-scale manufacturing of Flextronics that makes that price possible.
The obvious concern that’s raised by talk of a huge global company based in the Far East taking over the manufacture of Brammo’s bikes is quality. We spoke to Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher about that last night.
“Brammo still designs, engineer and specifies everything on the bike,” Craig told us. “Vendors for motorcycle components are not going to change. We’re not all of a sudden going to have a cheap Chinese brake on there. There should actually be a benefit on the quality side due to Flextronics’ massive purchasing power.”
“This partnership allows us to scale, while focussing on design, engineering and product development,” Craig continued. “We are going to be incredibly prolific with product development now.”
Brammo still plans to pursue its original goal of manufacturing its bikes as close as possible to their point of sale, Flextronics’ 30 locations will actually prove a huge help with that.
With motorcycles rapidly proving to be the best format for electric vehicles, electric motorcycles proving a two-wheeled consumer product with mainstream market appeal and performance rapidly advancing in an inverse relationship to cost — the Brammo Empulse 10.0 will be capable of exceeding 100mph, traveling an average of 100+ miles between charges and, with certain tax breaks, can be cheaper than an SV650 — we’re witnessing an epochal change in personal transportation. Now equipped with global mass manufacturing capabilities that likely exceed those of even the largest traditional motorcycle companies, Brammo is perfectly positioned to exploit all the above. That’s right, Brammo could be taking over the world.