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We Have the Best Batteries in the World - Exclusive Interview with Zero Motorcycles (Page 3)

Scott Harden, Zero Motorcycles 1 photo
Photo: Florin Tibu
Continued from Page 2 of "We Have the Best Batteries in the World - Exclusive Interview with Zero Motorcycles"ae: Zero scooters?
SH: Nope, we're most likely not going to go that way. I won't say we'll never do that, but right now we are so focused on building the best electric motorcycle in the world. Maybe if all goes out well and we become more solidly entrenched in the market, we could consider expanding the range with scooters and other vehicles.

ae: What about the Harley-Davidson's LiveWire electric motorcycle project?
SH: What they did is great, because when they announced the model they attracted a lot of attention. We recorded the highest traffic on our website ever in that period, so it helped us. Seeing H-D going electric, even in prototype form validates what we are doing.

They literally acknowledged that electric bikes were coming. From that standpoint, it's great, from the execution standpoint, we blow them away. The bike is heavy, pricey and has a very low range.

I think they looked at it and understood that there is so much more work to do. When you start comparing apples to apples, you see how far Zero has come. With their deep pockets and talented design and R&D people, the LiveWire was the best they could come up with...

KTM and other companies who are not afraid to take risks are the ones with better chances of becoming successful in the electric motorcycle business

ae: Has anyone come to Zero asking to buy batteries? Wouldn't it be much easier to design a motorcycle and then throw in Zero batteries and motors?
SH: We sell our complete powertrains, but no OEM comparable to Harley (or other big ones, red.) came to us to obtain batteries or other components.

Sometimes I think they are so proud that they think they can do it on their own. Surely, they could design a bike and equip it with our technology if they wanted. Sooner or later, some of these manufacturers will want to go into the electric business, and they will realize they must either invest a ton of money in R&D, or get ready-made components.

Until this happens, we stay on the same track. We are going to build this technology, develop the product, we are going to do it on our own, and we are going to be successful.

ae: Whom do you "fear" most? Is there anyone you credit with having the best chances to catch up with Zero Motorcycles?
SH: The big man upstairs, I guess, God. But I doubt "fear" is the right word for your question.

We certainly respect other companies. We are a small company, and there are huge ones out there, with deep pockets and immense resources, and if they wanted to invest in this, they could make a change in the market.

I guess that the strongest competition comes from KTM and people like them, guys who are not afraid to take chances and who push boundaries and have really good design. I am more fearful of such companies because the rest are too traditional or too conservative.

ae: Do you believe that electric motors could enter MotoGP like they penetrated in Formula One?
SH: Well, look at the Isle of Man, look at the progress this technology made in the last four years, look at the lap times. During four years, electric motorcycles covered the same distance in terms of the gap they had to cover that took internal combustion motors 40 years.

If this progress was possible in just four years, it's pretty obvious that we are only at the beginning of electric vehicles. It's a whole new technology, whereas IC engines have been around for 130 years, there is not much more left to develop. Pneumatic valves, forced induction of any type, it's all the same generic architecture.

In the electric department, the sky is the limit. We think there will be a lot more to come, but it is still related to economics. As long as the oil still abounds and remains cheap, the pressure to go electric is going to be very light. In a way, this is, once more, the reason we sell our bikes based on experience.

Go and ride one, see what it does for your soul, see what it does for the way you feel, and choose.

We have to thank Scott for his patience and insightful answers he provided during this lengthy interview. We'll be perusing it and highlight certain aspects we read between the lines, so stay tuned. Follow the links below for our EICMA 2015 photo galleries and the new Zero bikes:

EICMA: 2016 Zero FXS Electrifies the Supermoto Class

EICMA: 2016 Zero DSR Is an Electric Dual-Sport Bike on Steroids
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