What future for the electric motorcycle?

Kalashnikov electric motorbike

Electric cars offer an answer to the air pollution that kills 50,000 a year in Britain alone, but they remain expensive and a challenge to charge.

Motorcycle manufacturers are as painfully aware of the writing on the wall for the internal combustion engine as their car making colleagues. Without exception they are investigating, if not developing, hybrid and all-electric alternatives. Although commuters are at present reluctant to swap cars for powered two-wheelers, congestion and air pollution look set to worsen and electric motorcycles and scooters promise to be cheaper and easier to charge than their four-wheel equivalents. An electric scooter is small and light enough to store and charge down a side passage or even inside a house itself.

Such is the market potential for small and clean powered personal transport that even Kalashnikov – makers of the infamous AK-47 machine gun – have launched an altogether more benign product in the shape of an electric motorcycle.

The Kalashnikov IZH electric motorcycle claims a range of almost 100 miles from one charge and a maximum power of 15 kW. The Moscow police force is to receive up to 50 of theses battery powered motorcycles for the 2018 World Cup. Following that, the intention is for them to move to police duties at mass-participation events such as bicycle rides and marathons, as well as in parks and nature reserves.

The Kalashnikov electric motorcycle might be aimed squarely at police duties, but battery bikes will come in all shapes and sizes. The AppScooter promises to out-accelerate a Vespa, use its own internet connection to book itself in for services and travel a near-silent 100 miles on a single charge, but is the world ready to end its love affair with the Vespa in favour of an electric scooter?

AppScooter

The AppScooter promises to out-perform the competition. As well zero exhaust pipe emissions, the electric scooter gets you from 0 to 30 mph in a brisk 3.9 seconds compared to 9.9 seconds for a 50 cc Vespa 50. Based on a route without no hills and average traffic conditions, the scooter can squeeze almost 100 miles at 15 mph or around 60 at 30 mph.

AppScooter electric scooter

How does an electric scooter compare to a petrol Vespa?

When petrol scooters first went on sale, they offered an easy-to-use and clean alternative to a conventional motorcycle. They were quickly adopted by an entirely new group of people. After all, they could be ridden in a summer dress and heels, or shorts and sandals, without any difficulty at all. In an austere post-war Italy desperate for cheap transport, the stylish little Vespa prospered.

Hoping for a similar success story in an age preoccupied with tech and overshadowed by a concern for the environment is the AppScooter. Squint and you’d be forgiven for mistaking the battery-powered scooter for a modern Vespa, but look closer and the styling is the cleanest  in class.

vespa electric scooter

The Vespa has represented a way of life for over half a century

The AppScooter and Vespa 50 are priced almost identically and while the battery scoot promises to out-accelerate its petrol-powered rival, it is likely to be more expensive to run. Although the bill for charging the electric scooter will be small, the monthly battery rental is equivalent to the cost of enough petrol to cover over 250 miles by a 50 cc scooter. Furthermore, electric vehicles currently suffer far worse depreciation than petrol-powered equivalents. The AppScooter promises motorised urban transport that is cleaner and quieter and no less stylish than the competition, but the Vespa is unlikely to lose its crown any time soon.

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Comments

  1. Mary Fisher

    Reply

    I’d love Spouse to have an electric scooter – I think he would too. Depreciation? There’s a lot more to life than money.

  2. Mark

    Reply

    One way of bridging the gap to e-scooter ownership until the cost comes down is share schemes like eCooltra which we have here in Lisbon.
    It’s only marginally cheaper than a ride-hailing trip, but there’s no competition yet, and it’s definitely greener!
    Provides a good bridge between bike-share for local trips and trains etc. for longer ones, or the various car-share options for larger loads.

  3. Jacob

    Reply

    I’ve heard Piaggio is launching an electric version of the Vespa next year

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