5 Questions With...Electric Motorcycle Consultant Victor Pritzker

Interview: Aaron Frank

INTERVIEW: Aaron Frank

Q: Is there a market for electric two-wheelers in America?
A: China already has more than 25 million E2Ws, mainly scooters and electric bicycles, in use. Urban congestion and short-range usage make even the slowest E2W competitive with ICE [internal-combustion] vehicles there. In America, motor-cycles are used mostly for recreation. But as fuel prices increase and recessionary forces stress more people, bikes look more attractive as basic transport. Current E2Ws do that just fine. The American E2W market is present and growing. The OEMs now have to educate potential buyers to the capabilities of these machines.

Q: **Scooters and electric commuters are fine, but what about eSuperbikes?
It's telling that Honda has recently revealed an electric-powered Super Cub. The gas Super Cub is the best-selling motorcycle of all time, with over 60 million sold. Sales of even a fraction as many electric Super Cubs could underwrite development of a true electric superbike, with performance matching the gas-powered CBRs we ride today.

Q: What's the most promising E2W development so far?
**A: **Ironically, it's in bicycles. "Pedelecs," basic-ally electric-assisted bicycles, have without fanfare become the beachhead E2W. According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, shipments of electric bicycles exceeded shipments of small motorbikes by more than 100,000 units in 2009. Remember, the first motorcycles were engine-assisted bicycles. Perhaps electric bicycles will be the gateway product for that elusive new rider the motorcycle industry is desperately seeking.

Q: Will E2Ws ever replace ICE bikes?
A: The short answer is not completely, or not anytime soon. The most common questions asked by potential buyers are how fast, how far and how long to charge? Current E2Ws can't compete with conventional ICE bikes on performance or price, and the necessary technology is still some ways off.

Q: Thoughts on the FIM adding electric racebikes to the MotoGP program?
A: The significance is enormous. Being at the same venue on the same day as the premier class of motorcycle racing brings credibility to electric bikes, and provides exposure to the core enthusiast group of the motorcycle world. Racing has always been the proving ground for motorcycles, and it's no different for electric bikes.