Brammo Electric Motorcycle May Be First Real Test Of EV Acceptance

The Brammo Enertia

The Brammo Enertia

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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.


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Comments (9)
  1. Jon, any numbers on how many of these EV motorcycles have been sold to date?

  2. Hi Jason. I know that just prior to the price drop, Brammo had indicated that approximately 100 bikes had been sold. I have heard since the price drop that there are relatively short (1.5 weeks) waiting lists at a couple of the Best Buy stores that carry the bikes.

  3. huh? performance and price parity? You need new glasses! You can buy a new Kawasaki EX250 that will get to 60 in under 6 seconds on to 100mph top speed, get 50-60mpg and hold almost 5 gallons of gas for a cruising range of over 250miles per tank. All for 4 grand new. So for twice the price of the Kawasaki, you get half the performance and 20% of the range. I have nothing against EV power. I love instant torque, but the batteries aren't even close to ready.

  4. @Matt. So don't buy one then!!!
    Why is it negative people expect EVs to 100% exceed the price/performance of ICE ASWELL as their inherent advantages of .. more energy efficient (MUCH cheaper to run), better accel and no stupid noise.
    Give us a break, these are first generation EVs, lets see what they look like given 50 years development like the old smoke belchers!

  5. @ Paul,
    Matt was merely contradicting, successfully, the whole poin of this particular post.
    He obviously wasn't issuing a general broadside against electric propulsion.
    So just simmer down there buddy.

  6. (A) According to John Farris at Brammo the company has sold "about $1 million in bikes" to date. This works out to approximately 100, as BRAMMOFAN says.
    (B) Matt, after researching some more ICE specs I have to admit, you've got a point. The performance and price of the Enertia are not quite as close to the gas-powered competition as I was concluding.
    So basically, if sales really take off we can conclude that the man on the street is definitely open to buying an EV (all things being equal), but If sales are lackluster we can't necessarily conclude the opposite.

  7. Chris, thanks for successfully interpretting the meaning of my post.
    Thanks for the intelligent discourse. I look forward to the day of competive EV's. The electronics and the motors are there. Electric motors are so much simpler and better than ICE. What's needed is a order of magnitude improvement in battery energy density. Until then, it's a niche market and won't achieve mass acceptance. Hybrids will help bridge the gap until the battery technology improves.

  8. you know it will be nice when best buy knows that they are selling them? if you call 1-888-237-8289 they have no idea or any info on this thing.

  9. If they put one sample in each BEST BUY that would be thousands. I hope it takes off. If you work close enough to work it would be ideal for commuting. Saving $1k/yr would be paying it off in 7 years just in gas savings.

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