Yamaha has committed to producing two electric motorcycles next year, but Australians will have to wait for some time longer.
The Japanese manufacturer unveiled six electric motorcycle concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year, but recently committed to producing only the PES1 (Passion Electric Street) road bike and PED1 (Passion Electric Dirt).
Yamaha Motor Australia marketing boss Sean Goldhawk says the Australian market is not yet ready for electric motorcycles, a feeling shared by BMW Motorrad Australia who will not be bringing in the new C-Evolution electric scooter.
“We have had the technology for years, but we need the market to be in the position to accept it,” Sean says. “First there will have to be significant recharging infrastructure in place in the cities. Electric cars are starting to bring that in.”
Sean says that when the infrastructure is right, Yamaha will be in a good position to capitalise on electric power.
“I still think we are a way off seeing them as popular. Maybe electric dirt bikes will be first because you can ride them in the bush and won’t scare the wildlife or people,” he says. “It would mean you could have dirt tracks closer to residential areas and wouldn’t create a noise problem.”
He says electric motorcycles are being used more and more in events such as The Isle of Man TT and Pikes Peak hillclimb and the technology and popularity could filter down to consumers. They certainly don’t seem to lag too far behind conventional bikes in power, and more importantly torque output.
Meanwhile, the PES1 and PED1 are different to some of the concept electric bikes because they look conventional and should appeal to current riders. In fact, the PES1 is very attractive. Shame about the name – PED1 is even worse, for obvious reasons!
But first they will have to conquer riders’ fears of running out of battery, or “range anxiety”. At the moment, range is limited to an average of about 150km on most electric bikes, but can be extended with more expensive batteries and judicious use of the right wrist.