One of the more notable electric motorcycle companies to be producing consumer focused models these days is Brammo. The electric motorcycle manufacturer, based in Ashland, Oregon, has been around for a number of years and focuses its development efforts on electric vehicles it believes capture the essence of traditional motorcycles, but don’t have the carbon emissions of their gas fueled cousins.
Brammo for 2011 recently unveiled the Enertia Plus, which will price for around $9,000. It sports an electric motor with peak motor power of 13kW @ 4500 rpm and a maximum torque of 40 N-m, 29.5 ft-lb @ 0 – 1450 rpm. On the higher end, the company also has its Empluse model, said to hit speeds over 100 miles per hour for sustained periods. To learn more about Brammo and its interesting electric motorbikes, we turned to Adrian Stewart, Brammo’s director of sales and marketing, for some answers:
EarthTechling (ET): What is the back story on Brammo? How did it come to be founded?
Adrian Stewart: In early 2005, Brammo purchased the license to produce the Ariel Atom, an exo-skeletal vehicle designed by Nik Smar. Brammo’s license allowed the company to produce the vehicle for the North American market only. After we secured the license from Ariel CEO Simon Saunders, Brammo reverse-engineered the vehicle, making several improvements along the way, and began production. The company could not secure the Honda engines which were installed in the UK versions of the car, so we approached GM and were able to obtain the supercharged GM Ecotec engine, although a limited run of ten Atoms came equipped with Honda K20A engines. The company sold just over 130 Atoms during a 20 month period. Jay Leno bought one of them and wrote an extensive review of it for Popular Mechanics.
In 2007, Bramscher decided that his next super car project the Rogue GT with nearly 1,000 hp (750 kW) and 3 mpg-US (78 L/100 km; 3.6 mpg-imp) was not a viable product in a post Inconvenient Truth world. Brammo began looking at electric motors as a possible next step. Brammo began developing an electric Ariel Atom and learned some of the intricacies of electric drivetrains while it worked toward production of the vehicle. Although Ariel Atom UK had been amenable to Brammo’s re-engineering of the Atom for a GM motor due to the unavailability of the Honda system used in the UK, it became economically unfeasible for the electric Atom project to continue due to the amount of the royalties required by Ariel for the electric vehicle. Brammo then decided to develop its own electric vehicle (EV) from the ground up.
ET: Why get into electric motorcycles?
Stewart: Brammo’s experience with building supercars, coupled with its research of electric drivetrains and then-current battery technology led to the belief that with the power to weight and energy density ratio of lithium batteries, an EV was possible, but that the vehicle’s weight was a crucial concern. The decision was made to produce a lighter motorcycle. Brammo focused on designing and building the Enertia prototype. After completing the prototype, the company met with investors and determined that Brammo Motorsports needed to become Brammo, Inc., and that it would thereafter focus fully on electric vehicles.