EBA: Do you see battery technology on the
horizon that will change things for the better?
Abe: Every year there are mounds of money
invested in battery technology by battery and automotive companies. Every major university has a program for battery research hoping to see advancement in this technology. As soon as new battery
technology is made available to us, we will make it
available to the public, so you will continue to see
battery advancements, if not every year then every
couple of years.
EBA: What is the most impressive part of
riding a Zero? People always ask whether it is
weird to ride without the engine noise.
Abe: It is absolutely a magic-carpet ride. We
have this great road nearby called Highway 17. It
twists around through great scenery. There is nothing that gets in the way of the experience. That is
just really special. We had a journalist a couple of
years ago, and he got off the bike and claimed, “I
have never felt and heard the tires perform like I
just did on that bike.” He was blown away by the
fact that not only could he feel the road more than
he normally could, but he could actually hear what
the tires were doing as he was pushing the limits of
traction. You can focus on the experience in ways
that used to be impossible.
EBA: Of the approaching technologies that
look promising, what is the most exciting for you
Abe: There are a lot of very exciting new technologies on the motor controller side. In the near
term, there are a plethora of ideas for battery
chemistries that could improve the energy density
in a dramatic way. Today you have internal combustion motorcycles, and it weighs what it weighs,
and there is really nothing other than substituting
lighter materials that can dramatically reduce the
overall weight or the layout of the motorcycle.
There just isn’t room in an internal combustion-en-gine design. As battery-energy density goes up, the
size of the battery can be reduced. Once we get to
the range we want, the battery can continue to get
smaller. Ten years from now we will likely lose 100
pounds of battery, so the bike will be 100 pounds
lighter and all the real estate currently used by the
batteries will free up. Maybe it will just become
cargo capacity, but electric drive opens up the
creative and performance possibilities in a way that
internal combustion motorcycles won’t allow.
EBA: Why did Zero start with a motorcycle as
an electric vehicle?
Abe: As more and more of the population lives in
cities, there is only so much room for cars. The narrow profile of a motorcycle makes more and more
sense in a congested environment. As electricity
is refined as the revolutionary next step in vehicle
propulsion, what better vehicle is there to apply it
to than a motorcycle—a more advanced individual
transportation vehicle than a car. As personal mobility changes and becomes more and more individualized, the motorcycle will already be going in that
direction, and with the electric powertrain, it will be
even more so. ■
Zero’s marketing director, Scot Harden, claims that this line of
motorcycles waiting to be crated sets Zero apart from other makers of
electric motorcycles. Zero has a steady supply of bikes and spare parts
rolling off the production line.
All parts and sub-assemblies, like
these completed wheels, sit on carts
ready to go at the proper point on
the production line. One guy mounts
tires all day long. He is impressively
quick and efficient.