The Current News: New Year Edition!
This edition of The Current News is dominated by electric speculation and precedent-setting. From prototypes and concepts, to renderings of the most vaporous kind – even a wee little scooter that may not actually exist – this is a week of elec-trickery. Curtiss Motorcycles brings the improbable to life, BMW, Ural/Zero, and Segway add to EV innovation, and McKinsey Design imagines a flirty little 3-wheeler, built for 2. Add to that the news that Tacita has snuck an electric bike into the Dakar and it could be fair to claim that electric motorcycles are settling nicely to their role as the next future of electric vehicle history.
The NAWA Hybrid Racer Concept Has Range
It’s coming, and it’s coming FAST, and that’s not just because the latest revolutionary hybrid motorbike concept from NAWA Technologies will be introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas on January 7th of 2020, but also because it will have tremendous power, and even more exciting range. First, the battery can reuse up to 80% of the energy generated from regenerative braking. Secondly, the company’s next-generation Lithium-Ion ultra-capacitors can deliver “ten times more power and five times more energy that existing capacitors.” This highly efficient battery system is also 25 percent lighter and can travel up to 300 (urban) kilometers (186 miles). According to NAWA’s press release, this is the first time that ultra-capacitors have been used for a motorcycle, a system which allows for the incredibly rapid up-take and recovery of energy, and astounding power output. All this speed is captured within a worthy design – a sleek café racer reminiscent of the Lightning LS-218. The panels are made of a smooth, lightweight composite, with painted aluminum and copper on a “stiff but light carbon fibre frame.” The metallic frame complements a surrealistic rear hub-less rim motor that produces baffling speeds. The NAWA Racer moves from 0-100 km/h (0 – 62 mph) in under 3 seconds and can continue past 160 km/h (99 mph). No mention of price, nor of a production schedule for the bike, but the ultracapacitors are poised for mass production in early 2020.
CARO Electric “Car” More Rendering Than Reality
McKinsey Design is, among its many goals, dedicated to designing products that support sustainability. To that end, they came up with a personal urban transport option that combines creativity with conscientiousness. They write, “The environmentally friendly ‘Caro’ is a three-wheeled electric hybrid concept vehicle that combines the comfort, stability, and storage capacity of a car with the efficiency and sleek profile of a motorbike or scooter.” All of this featured in a futuristic capsule car worthy of the Jetsons.
The pink pod may not be ultra-aerodynamic, but it is quite modular. The seating area allows for simple adjustments which can either accommodate an extra passenger or extra luggage. McKinsey describes this cute car alternative as being built toward the future with extras such as “keyless biometric access that enhances security and a rearview camera for added safety and ease of mobility,” as well as, “a UI [which] incorporates built-in navigation, an electric speedometer, and battery life indicators.” There’s also an optional weather shield that can be called upon to shield riders from more challenging weather elements.
Segway Electric Concept Is Quite Literally The APEX
Not all motorcycle preview videos are created equal. This one for the Segway APEX, their freshest electric concept, really is hair-raising (see minute 1:06). The newest and most menacing member of the Ninebot team is captured racing around a gritty track, sleek white side-panels gleaming – an enticing contrast between pristine power and well-practiced performance.
Segway’s APEX looks like a super bike, but they are referring to it as a “super scooter.” Not sure why since it is predicted to offer up speeds of 125 mph and reach 0-60 in 2.9 seconds. Perhaps the company best known for their somewhat nerdy “people movers” is having difficulty with their new sexier self-image. Perhaps they’ll be ready by the time the electric speedster makes its appearance in Vegas at this year’s Consumer Electronic Showcase in January.
How About An Electric Ural?
There are many advantages to riding electric two-wheelers, including the absence of a roaring, belching combustion engine. This is especially true when your seat is in closer proximity to the action. Perhaps that is why the classic side-car motorcycle manufacturer, Ural Motorcycles, co-conceptualized an electric incarnation of their famous passenger vehicle with veteran EV innovators, Zero Motorcycles. It’s easy to imagine how much more pleasant it would be to ride in this sidecar – free of the sounds and the smells of a combustion carrier, and it looks fantastic as well.
“You’ll feel like you’re in stealth-mode, sneaking up on cars that are idling louder at stoplights,” writes Good Spark Garage, “[a]nd there’s no chugging engine to holler over when talking to your passenger. It’s like a whirring magic-carpet ride compared to the vibrations and tractor-like grunt of Ural’s legendary fuel-burning models.”
Zero and Ural seamlessly blended old and new. The Zero S donated its batteries, controller, and motor and Ural its CT model, and signature vintage look. The updated alloy side panels are a modern touch courtesy of high-end vehicle design studio ICG , and the only real indicator – besides the stealthy, smokeless silence. ICG also thought to cleverly conceal the charging port inside the existing gas tank. The range is estimated to be about 100 miles at regular cruising speeds, not at the rumoured 88 mph – the projected top speed. These specs are thanks to a unique double-battery arrangement that placed lighter ZF6.5 battery in the main chassis, and the heavier ZF13.0 battery in the sidecar under the seat, both of which power a Z-Force 75-7 brushless DC motor.
Though the team did do extensive field testing before finalizing this model, there are no immediate plans to make this dream into full production reality. Then, when they feel the market is ready, it would still be at least 24 months from final approval to production – so plenty of time to make room in the garage.
The Hades 1, Worthy Of A Super Hero
Curtiss Motorcycles has done it again. The custom design team has recently introduced this space-age sensation, the Hades 1 Pure. Though the name may have been inspired by the motor’s potential to cross you into the underworld, the design does also conjure visions of villainous Gotham. The patent-pending “ultra-lightweight and compact Axial Flux motor solution packaged via ‘Curtiss Centered Power Axis’ design” has the capacity to pump out an astounding 217HP with a pulled back “peak operating output” of 96HP !?! or an even more manageable ‘steady’ stream of 49HP. Same goes for the Torque which has a 272lb-ft capability versus the more moderate “peak” of 147 lb-ft twist of throttle. All of this is powered by 399V modular system design for optimized heat regulation and efficiency.
The look of the Hades 1 reflects this astounding, unapologetic power with a heavy art deco influence. The chassis is raw, machined billet aluminum with titanium hardware, a finish that promises to age with all the character that is also reflected in the details: the ribbed motor casing reminiscent of bullet, the rear swing arms and front suspension resembling surgical blades. The remainder of the details complementary in both style and color. The blacked out front and back fenders disappearing into the tires, just like the illusion of negative space created by the black seat and details on the side panels and steering.
This rideable art-piece in all its splendour will be about 390 lb and may cost around $60,000 USD. Confirmation will come in the spring of 2020 when they begin production. Here’s a video that shows some of their previous projects, and explains why they love to work on EVs.
Millenium (E-Scooter) Mystery
Doing research can sometimes lead you a little off track. This week for example, while searching for more information about this sweet little seated Millenium (their spelling) e-scooter my Google keywords turned up a song whose title made an impression, and not just because it’s the correct spelling. No, “F**k The Millennium” is not a song about this lightweight, aluminum-frame, foldable that might reach speeds of 20 km/h (not quite 12.5 mph) with its 36V power plant that comes in a myriad of cute colours.
“F**k The Millennium” is an electro/punk anthem by British electro/punk band, Scooter, and it actually exists. Apologies if you were about to order the e-scooter but you may have more luck with the tune. The Vintagent tried to confirm that this Indonesian Instagram account really has scooters to sell, and how much they might be to no avail. Anyone who speaks Malay is welcome to give them a call and let us know, after all, these rideable e-scoots look like fun.
BMW Shifts Its Attention From E-commuter To E-Roadster With E-Power
As EV’s have transitioned from novelty to necessity, more mainstream motorcycle manufacturers are coming up with concepts, the latest being BMW. For now, the E-Power isn’t much of a looker, but the recently debuted electric motorbike is proving true to its moniker. The battery-heavy experimental design has 13kW of power paired with 147.5ftlb of torque that put the S1000R to the test and won. It’s also about 70 kgs (about 150lbs!) heavier than the Zero SRF, but BMW is confident that it can bring that down significantly. As demonstrated by the proto-bike, BMW also plans to produce a rapid re-charger for the final battery pack, “3.7 miles of charge per minute.”
Unlike the C-volution, this Roadster is meant to target cross-country riders who want a range of at least 200 – 300 kms (124 – 186 miles), and when the country (ed: all countries?!) have the supporting infrastructure, because, “We do not want to be like Tesla, installing fast-chargers everywhere – these cost around €110,000 (about $122,000USD) each, they made a point of saying, “At BMW we need to earn money, not burn money.” As usual, the independent innovators get farther ahead despite having less established research facilities, less access to expertise and, quite often, much smaller budgets. The big kids wait until there is plenty of precedent, while the bigger mistakes are made, and others have initiated the necessary infrastructure.
DAKAR Dares To Go Electric
An electric bike will be competing, for the first time, in the most famous and rigorous overland endurance race in the world. Once known as the Paris Dakar Rally after the origin and destination of the annual challenge, this year the Dakar will make its debut appearance in Saudi Arabia – traversing the desert from Jeddah to Qiddiyah. This is also where the Italian TACITA T-Race Rally 2020 will prove itself alongside all the competitors during the final stage on January 17th, for the “Qiddiyah Grand Prix.”
It isn’t terribly surprising that Dakar Race Director David Castera is welcoming the “Alternative Energies” to compete in the Rally Raid. For years the Dakar Rally has made concerted efforts to minimize its ecological impact on host countries along its route by contributing to local infrastructures, connecting to and promoting local aid organizations, and also by attempting to ‘leave no trace’. Incorporating electric bikes fits nicely with their objectives to lower the carbon footprint of the event. On January 4th, 2020 watch when the “TACITA T-Race Rally 2020 and the TACITA Rally Program for the upcoming 2021, 2022 and 2023 Dakar Editions will be officially presented at the Jeddah Dakar Village on the “New Energy” Podium” then look out for the race day when this electric Ride takes its place on the Rally start line for the very first time.
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