The Brammo EnertiaEnlarge Photo
Even though electric vehicle technology continues to march toward apparent future viability, there are still unconquered obstacles that leave room for doubt about the whole enterprise. The most incontrovertible being price.
Right now an electric car with gas-equivalent performance (range aside) may cost more than most people are willing to pay, and although many EV boosters aggressively chant the mantra that mass production will lower costs to the point that the masses will buy EV's, the truth is that nobody knows this for sure.
This makes the recent price cut to the Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle a potentially pivotal event. By reducing the retail price of this mid-size electric bike from $12,000.00 to just $8,000.00 (which drops to $7,200 with the Federal tax incentive and will fall even farther with various state incentives) the company has provided what is arguably the first available EV to be both performance and price competitive with it's gas-powered rivals.
Direct competitors include bikes in the 250cc range such as the Honda 230M and the Yamaha WR 250X which sell for around $6500. While the Enertia gives up a little something to these two in the area of top speed with it's 60 mph maximum, this size machine is not really optimal for highway commuting anyway, and Enertia comes out ahead on usable torque at lower speeds and acceleration from a dead stop. The 42 mile range per charge will be a dis-incentive to some, but many urban commuters and recreational riders won't care, while the positive incentives of running at pennies per mile, totally without intrusive noise, not to mention the non-existant maintenance schedule, should weigh heavily on the other side of the balance.
In short, the Enertia at it's new price-point, available through a major retail outlet (Best Buy) across more and more of the U.S., makes an excellent test-case in the still unresolved argument about whether most people (i.e. those outside the "true-believers" tent) are willing to purchase an electric vehicle.
The result may be somewhat skewed by the fact that two-wheeled transportation is not generally as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world, but if sales of the Enertia do turn out to be strong it will be a tremendous argument that given rough price equivalence the average consumer is quite happy to purchase an EV.