Enertia Electric Motorcycle - Is It Really A Best Buy?

The EEM is a good-looking product that costs too much. In this economy good looks won't get you very far; why buy an electric motorcycle when you can get by with what you already have?
enertia electric bike
photos courtesy of Enertia
by Ross Bonander

Specs:

  • Type: Dedicated plug-in electric vehicle
  • Class: Motorcycle
  • Manufacturer: Brammo Motorworks
  • Propulsion system: 13 kW 18hp High Output Permanent Magnet DC motor
  • Top Speed: 50-55 mph (80 km/h)
  • Zero-to-30: 3.8 seconds
  • Vehicle range: 45 miles
  • Fuel(s): Electricity
  • Fuel efficiency: 374 MPGe
  • Battery system: Six lithium ion phosphate battery modules
  • Time to full battery recharge: 3 hours
  • Vehicle weight: 280 lbs (127.3 kg)
  • Tailpipe emissions: No
  • Price: $11,995 (before a 10% federal tax credit)
  • Availability: July 2009

The manufacturer says

Deceptively simple, the Enertia represents what’s achievable with the beauty of modern technology and some pretty smart engineers, rather than a blue sky promise based on technologies that are years off in the future.

Overview

The light, powerful Enertia Electric Motorcycle (EEM) is a zero-emissions bike manufactured by Brammo Motorsports (founded in 2002). In an interesting departure, Brammo is said to be hoping to sell the EEM through your local Best Buy retailer (this is up in the air; see below).

Brammo's leadership team begins with Chairman and CEO Craig Bramscher. Previously, Craig was the founder & CEO of DreamMedia; later he served as a Managing Partner for USWeb. Brammo built the open-frame Ariel Atom sports car several years ago, and they had debated building an electric car to compete with Tesla before going with electric motorcycle. Good idea? Too soon to tell.

What we like

enertia detail

The design. The monocoque design of the chassis (made of extruded and forged aluminum) is clean and efficient, with a geometric elegance about it. In other words, while it lacks the manliness of a Harley, it's way more stylish than a moped.

The distribution plan. Brammo wants to sell the EEM through electronics giant Best Buy. While it's easy to envision headache scenarios here, or crack a few jokes—I think I'd rather someone other than Geek Squad service my motorcycle—I like this decision for a very banal reason: it's different, it's novel. Furthermore, Best Buy has a large finance arm already in place.

However, this is not a done deal. I put in a call to Best Buy's Media Relations department in Minnesota; the company has been experimenting with selling Segways and scooters in about 20 West Coast stores (you can find some scooters and electric bikes online), and Brammo's EEM will likely—but not certainly—become part of that test later this summer.

The USB port. The EEM features a USB port that allows the rider to download data and tailor the riding experience to their personal usage. Yes, but can you charge and run your iPod off it?

What we don’t

The price Coming in at $11,995 (minus a ten percent federal plug-in tax credit, or $1,199 off) is steep, especially for a bike with performance specifications like these, and especially for a vehicle of limited practical use—for many, the EEM would likely be cost-prohibitive unless gas prices skyrocket and stay there.

riding the enertia

The specs. Sure, the bike can reach about 55 mph, making the freeway an option, but at that speed you rape and pillage the battery's range. Keep in mind that 45 miles on the EEM is only possible under ideal conditions—and while going 25 mph. The next time you're driving around, try actually going 25 mph. it feels so slow.

Conclusions

What we have here is a good-looking product that costs too much. In this economy good looks won't get you very far; why pay top dollar when you can get by with something cheaper, or worse, you can get by with what you already have? I mean, at $12,000 where's the market for the EEM? Here's three more things to consider:

  • Best Buy could decide that selling the EEM is too much trouble. Then what?
  • Vetrix, makers of the VX-1 electric scooter–a slightly cheaper ride than the EEM with very similar specs–is said to be on the financial ropes.
  • Xtreme Green's X Rider motorcycle—which certainly lacks the good looks and street credibility of the EEM—will cost less than half the cost of the EEM and go faster and have double the battery range.

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