Will the Asian Market Drive Electric Motorcycle Sales and Innovation?

Mar 31, 2015 View Comments by

Rickshaw 8Here in the U.S. motorcycles are largely used for pleasure rather than for utilitarian transportation. Sure, there are a few people out there that swear they’ve never owned, and never will own, a car and who ride their bikes 365 days a year, but generally they do so out of personal preference and not necessity. Not so in much of Asia. There, motorcycles (and trikes) are smaller, cheaper, and serve as people movers. In many crowded Asian cities, two wheelers easily out number four wheelers as there’s simply not enough room (or resources) for everybody to have cars. Across the continent, but especially in China, pollution is as much a problem as traffic congestion. For both of these reasons, and the fear of rising fuel prices, electric motorcycles, scooters, and trikes are particularly attractive in the east.

Further illustrating this point, the electric bikes that are marketed stateside tend to focus on performance instead of practicality and have price tags out of the reach of most budget wary buyers. Terra Motors, a Japanese EV company, hopes to infiltrate emerging markets with economical and practical battery powered bikes and trikes including the R6 pictured here (certainly not to be confused with the Yamaha R6). The R6 is the definition of basic transport, but with a zero emission, low maintenance electric drive train.

It seems likely that the huge, relatively untapped Asian markets may well be the driving innovative force that brings the price of EVs down while pushing performance up. Whether they’ll ever truly catch on here in America, or when that might be, is another question.

 

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