2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype orders giants

Electric motorcycles leave giants in lurch

Start-ups making electric motorcycles and scooters are leaving behind the giants of traditional motorcycle manufacturing, according to American motorcycle industry guru Robert Pandya.

“The motorcycling environment, technology, and customer are simply changing faster than our industry is adapting,” says Robert, a former Indian Motorcycle executive and now a senior motorcycle industry consultant.

“Sure there are exceptions, but by and large the same training methods, rider expectations and experiences have dominated the mindset, attention and sponsorship dollars of the major OEM’s (original equipment manufacturer).”

He says the start-ups and non-traditional companies are leaving the motorcycle giants in the lurch on electric motorcycles.

Robert Pandya Indian Scout giants
Robert Pandya

“Very interesting brands like CAKE, Zero and Damon (full disclosure I’m on Damon’s advisory panel) are exploring the future of riding in truly compelling ways that major brands seem to only dabble with,” he says.

Damon Hypersport electric motorcycle
Damon Hypersport

“Why for instance is there not already an electric PW-50 style motorcycle from Yamaha?

“What an opportunity!

“Simple speed limiters, geo-fencing and throttle smoothing programs would be such a valuable tool for dealerships seeking to expand local ridership.

“Team Red, Yellow and Green would surely follow – only to the benefit of all of us in the community.”

Giants slow to plug in

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle
Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire in action

Harley-Davidson is the only traditional motorcycle manufacturer to bring a full-size road electric motorcycle to market.

But their LiveWire is very expensive at about $A44,000, compared with start-up producing bikes at about half the cost.

Harley also plan a host of smaller electric motorcycles and scooters as well as electric bicycles.

Harley-Davidson Scooter small
Harley electric scooter

Several other traditional motorcycle giants have talked about producing electric motorcycles but some have only produced electric scooters and off-road/trials bikes.

Meanwhile, small start-ups such as Denis Savic’s Australian Savic Motorcycles are forging ahead with full-size electric motorcycles at affordable prices.

2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype orders
Denis Savic with Australia’s first electric motorcycle, the Savic

Global slump

The global slump in motorcycle and scooter sales has been exacerbated by the recent sales slide in China and India which is now the biggest motorcycle market in the world.

While their motorcycle growth rate has been huge in recent years, the growing middle class now seem to be aspiring more to cars than motorcycles.

In “mature motorcycle markets” where premium motorcycle brands rule, the sales figures are terrible.

Australia last year suffered its third consecutive year of sliding motorcycle/scooter/ATV sales, with the top category of road bikes alarmingly down by a third over the past four years.

It’s worse in America where road bike sales slumped 19% in the first nine months last year.

There was an increase in motorcycle sales in several European nations last year.

However, it should be noted that the increase is largely due to the huge growth of electric motorcycles and scooters, as well as e-bikes which are counted in official European motorcycle sales figures.

Claudio Domenicali and Ducati e-bikes
Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali introduces their e-bikes

Interestingly, the US Custom Department has declared electric bicycles are “motor cycles”.

The the line between what is a bicycle, scooter, motorcycle or e-bike is becoming more and more blurred.

  1. I’m a biker since i was 15 yo, now i’m almost 80 and i’m still biking. I hate to drive a car!
    I’m longing for an electric chopper / cruiser. I’m not interested in speed.
    As i can not find an electric chopper, i’ m thinking about converting my thermal chopper to electric.

  2. This article seems to paint a false picture.
    Electric motorcycle sales in the USA are barely a trickle.
    Can’t say about Australia.
    I have no interest in electric motorcycles.
    I hope this helps.

  3. I would buy an electric motorcycle if they made an equivilent to the UJM of the ’70s. Upright, comfortable, dependable, useable. I don’t want 100+ horsepower, I want range. I don’t want cafe style, I want comfort and fenders. I want a bike I can ride to a Starbucks that’s an hour away. And make it home again. Right now nobody makes this bike. My favorite day ride is 180 miles. An ICE is my only choice.

  4. Perhaps, in this instance being first is not an advantage, the big manufacturers can just buy you out when the product is fully developed and/or more rigorous standards are agreed to. You don’t want to be the Betamax of electric motorcycles.

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