Skip to main content
Tag

commute

Electric dream: Horwin CR6 reviewed

By General Posts

by Fraser Addecott from https://www.mirror.co.uk

Sales of electric two-wheelers are booming and with manufacturers producing bikes like this one, it’s easy to see why.

It seems difficult to keep up with the number of new electric two-wheelers coming on to the market these days.

The trend was already under way and has only been accelerated by the pandemic, with commuters and others looking for alternatives to public transport.

Figures from the Motorcycle Industry Association show sales of electrics for June up 155% compared to the same month last year.

Sales for the year up until last month are also up 210% compared to the same period in 2020.

That is impressive growth, with the majority of bikes sold falling in the 50cc and 125cc equivalent categories.

Artisan Electric is a British company established in 2016 with a “mission to change the face of electric motorcycles and scooters with industry-leading innovation and product quality”.

The company offers a range of seven electric bikes and scooters – and the one I am testing here is the CR6.

This is a 125cc-equivalent machine, with a pretty cool retro-meets-futuristic look.

The air-cooled electric motor is powered by a 3.96kWh Panasonic lithium-ion battery.

Careful riding will produce a range of around 60 miles.

Haring around flat out – top speed is about 55mph – will cut your range to around 30 miles.

That may not sound much, but the CR6 is aimed at commuters and for jaunts into town, so it’s perfectly adequate.

A full charge from zero takes around four hours, but bear in mind you’ll hardly ever be charging from completely flat, so shorter times are more realistic.

Charging is via a standard three-pin socket and a socket in the side of the bike.

The battery comes with a reassuring three-year warranty.

On board, the ride position is relaxed and comfortable with a long and well-padded cafe-racer type seat.

There’s a round retro/modern, backlit, colour clock with a rather unnecessary rev counter across the top and a LCD panel with speed, charge level etc.

As with all electrics, the acceleration is instantaneous and impressive.

At just 134kg, this bike is light and it feels agile, manageable and nippy – perfect for the urban jungle.

With low-down weight, a decent aluminium chassis and an excellent turning circle, the CR6 handles extremely well.

The non-adjustable USD forks and preload-adjustable rear monoshock do a perfectly reasonable job.

And braking via a front 265mm disc and three-piston caliper and rear 220mm is plenty powerful enough.

The headlight is a nice bright LED and the “tank” is actually a lockable storage compartment, ideal for the charge cable, gloves etc.

It also contains a USB port – handy for charging your phone.

At five grand, the CR6 is obviously a bigger initial outlay than a petrol 125, but running costs work out at just a penny a mile.

Overall then, the Horwin is a solid little city commuter, easy to ride, with good looks and decent performance.

Specs:
Horwin CR6
Motor: Air-cooled electric
Max power: 8bhp
Max torque: 30ft lb
Colours: White; blue; green; black
Price: £4,992

Zero FXE launched: Review and Details

By General Posts

by Andrew Cherney from https://www.cycleworld.com

The brand’s sleekest and most fun ebike yet. The lightweight, agile FXE is a new addition to Zero’s 2022 lineup.

  • In a segment full of either high-priced, tech-heavy options or cheap flimsy junk, the FXE is a step in the right direction, especially for commuters not too concerned with range. It’s also a ton of fun.
  • The design adds a minimal, supermoto style onto the existing FX platform for a more modern, updated feel.
  • Steel frame holds the tried-and-true ZF 75-5 air-cooled motor in the FXE, rated at 46 hp. The 7.2kWh battery is not removable.
  • Certain design elements like the front headlight design (an LED) and “beak” got carried over directly from the Huge Design concept bike.
  • The bike’s light weight and short wheelbase make it easy to work turns, with good lean angle and sticky Pirelli tires aiding in your attack. You can drag the kickstand if you’re super aggressive though.
  • The relaxed, commuter-friendly riding position is even more upright than the SR/F’s but it makes for a comfy perch (except at higher speeds).
  • You’ll find the Cypher II operating system on the FXE displayed on a new 5-inch TFT screen, giving various ride modes and bike data. Pair your phone with the app to tailor them and get more detailed info.
  • Stylish cast wheels hold grippy Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires, which upped our confidence in deeper high-speed turns.
  • The rear Showa monoshock delivers nearly 8 inches of travel for an impressively stable ride.
  • Inverted Showa fork is adjustable. J.Juan brakes offer excellent feel and good stopping power, and ABS can be turned off.

2022 Zero FXE Specifications
MSRP: $11,795
Motor: ZF 75-5 air-cooled IPM motor
Battery: 7.2kWh (max capacity) lithium-ion integrated battery
Charger type: 650W integrated
Charge time: 9.7 hours to 100% w/ standard 110V or 220V input
Claimed Range: 60 miles highway, 100 miles city, 75 miles combined
Claimed Peak power: 46 hp @ 3,500 rpm
Claimed Peak torque: 78 lb.-ft.
Top speed: 85 mph
Transmission: Clutchless direct drive
Final Drive: Carbon belt
Frame: Steel trellis
Front Suspension: 41mm inverted Showa fork, spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 7.0 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa 40mm piston monoshock, spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 8.9 in. travel
Front Brake: 1-piston J.Juan floating caliper, 320mm disc w/ Bosch Gen 9 ABS
Rear Brake: 1-piston J.Juan floating caliper, 240mm disc w/ Bosch Gen 9 ABS
Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast alloy; 17 x 3 in. / 17 x 3.5 in.
Tires, Front/Rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso II; 110/70-17 / 140/70-17
Rake/Trail: 24.4°/2.8 in.
Wheelbase: 56.0 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Claimed Curb Weight: 299 lb.
Standard warranty: 2 years
Contact: zeromotorcycles.com

Conventional wisdom says there will be more EVs on the street within the next five to 10 years, and our urban roadscape will look a lot different than it does now. But conventional wisdom usually skips over the equally important notion that attracting riders means you have to innovate while also being sensitive to price, particularly in the electric space. Zero seems to be tackling those talking points, at least partially, with the reveal of the new 2022 FXE, a compact and affordable supermoto-styled commuter machine it’s billing as “the motorcycle of tomorrow, available today.”

Building the bike of tomorrow is a tall order, even for an electric motorcycle manufacturer, but when Zero took the wraps off its new machine last month near the firm’s HQ in Santa Cruz, California, our group of assorted moto scribes nodded. Here indeed was a very different looking electric bike—especially for the sometimes dowdy two-wheel electric space. And yet a mind-blowing revelation it was not, especially if you’re looking at the spec sheet alone. From a design standpoint, the slim, starkly modern supermoto-styled machine felt instantly appealing—even if it looked an awful lot like a deconstructed riff on the WR450, or more accurately, a close cousin of the brand’s already supermoto-y FXS model. But how would it hold up on the street?

n the FXE’s case, form did not have to follow function—or not as rigorously as previous models, which adopted more familiar shapes to make them appealing to the general public, according to Zero. But now, says VP of Product Development Brian Wismann, the consumer is ready for updated designs, which explains why the FXE, a model based on a concept collaboration with Huge Design back in 2019, is here. Although it’s built on the brand’s existing FX platform, the partnership with Huge introduced a completely new design language, informed mainly by stripped-down panels of bodywork. (The concept bike was in fact built on an FXS model, and you can see the similarities.) On the FXE, the so-called essential surfaces—seats, body panels, touch points—are intended to look like they’re floating over the chassis. The distinctive styling radiates modern industrial design aesthetics, while “celebrating the electric drivetrain” says Wismann.

When we sidled up to the FXE at a secret staging location outside of town—Zero shrewdly had us ride older SR/Fs and SR/Ss to where the new bikes were stashed—we were struck by just how approachable the profile was. A sane seat height welcomed even the shorties in the bunch, with the 32.9-inch perch making for easy access and a riding position similar to that of a dirt bike, not super aggressive but sitting atop the slightly dished, mostly flat seat, with a fairly short reach to the tallish bars. Mid-mounted pegs were ideally located, not too far forward or rearward, providing an upright stance in the saddle—even more than the SR/F I had just gotten off of. The compact body panels make for a clean look, though they did splay outward from below the faux fuel tank, pushing my knees out into the wind. They basically made it impossible to grip the tank as you normally might, but it was more minor inconvenience than any real annoyance.

With the ergonomics checking out, I put the FXE into Sport mode and let ‘er rip. Even though I sort of knew what to expect, the instant torque pop of an electric motor never fails to put a big grin on your face. Yes, 46 horses might not sound like much, but the eerily silent power pulse from the air-cooled ZF 75-5 motor is more than enough to turn your head, especially in its immediacy; the throttle felt far more responsive than the SR/F we had just ridden, possibly because the FXE’s substantially smaller mass and less unsprung weight made for quicker power transfer. With its narrow waist and short wheelbase, I found I could easily push the FXE into and through even the harshest decreasing-radius turns we tackled among the Santa Cruz redwoods. The bike did not fight me on quick transitions as much as expected, with the sticky Pirellis giving me all kinds of confidence throughout a half-day stint in mountain twisties. And with no need to worry about shifting, you’re free to focus on the next apex. Or to just blast to the 85-mph top speed, which I did whenever we hit a straight stretch of road. Why not, right?

Zero also outfitted the FXE with its now-familiar J.Juan brakes and bolstered by a Bosch ABS system, so stops were also a stress-free affair, with easy lever pull giving a strong bite and solid stopping power and almost no fade. (ABS can be turned off as well.) With 7 inches of travel, the inverted, adjustable Showa fork soaked up almost every road deformity we came across (except for one unexpected curb hop) staying composed even in truly harsh divots. Holding the line out back is an equally resilient—and adjustable—Showa monoshock that tracked solidly throughout our short ride.

As with the FX, the FXE also leverages Zero’s Cypher II operating system, which here is married to a new 5-inch optically bonded TFT display that proved bright and easy to read. You can access ride modes—it comes preprogrammed with Eco and Sport—and tailor torque, speed, and brake regeneration from the free Zero app, which also gives you insight to battery status. We can’t speak to range, given our short ride day—Zero claims 100 miles of city riding from the 7.2kWh (peak) battery, with 60 miles of range claimed on the highway, at 55 mph. The display screen showed less than 20 percent of charge remaining after our 50-mile stint, which was a mix of high- and low-speed scenarios, and that feels fairly close to the claim. According to Zero, the onboard 650W charger will top off the battery in 9.7 hours off a standard household socket; a rapid charger available for additional cost will do the job in a little more than 3 hours.

In sum, we’re not entirely buying the “bike of tomorrow” tagline, but the FXE does manage to serve up a grin-inducing blend of instant acceleration, flickability, and easy steering. Perhaps even more tantalizing is the sub-$10K price tag; yes, you’re getting a somewhat short range bike, but at least that obstacle is being somewhat addressed. Of course that sub-10K number rings true only once you tally in the federal and California EV tax credits, but hey, $10K is $10K.

Considering H-D’s lowest priced electric offering, the just-released LiveWire One, runs upward of $20K, and any bike called Lightning, Energica, Tarform, or Damon is well north of there, you’ve gotta hand it to Zero for compiling a portfolio of four models priced under $12K, all coming with a warranty and dealer support.

The dual sport FX sits at $11,595, the entry-level FXS is at $11,295, the naked S is priced at $10,995, and now the FXE at $11,795. All four either are or can be configured with the ZF 7.2 powertrain, which, granted, is not the fastest or most top-of-the-line offering, but it does help make the FXE one of the most affordable models in the Zero line.

You can check it out yourself at some of the upcoming stops of the IMS tour (starting with Sonoma Raceway on July 16) and bikes should be in dealers later this month as well.

Self-Driving Vehicles – Available Soon? Part 2

By General Posts

From https://www.motorists.org By Gary Witzenburg, Automotive Senior Writer and Contributing Editor, President of the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year, and NMA Member.

Editor’s Note: HOUR Detroit Magazine has graciously permitted the NMA to publish this piece, which initially appeared in a slightly different version on its pages. Please Click Here to Read Part 1.

Missions and Issues

“Automated vehicles’ potential to save lives and reduce injuries is rooted in one critical and tragic fact: 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error,” contends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “Automated vehicles have the potential to remove human error from the crash equation, which will help protect drivers and passengers as well as bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Another mission will be to provide much-needed mobility for the aged and disabled, though ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are already serving many Americans. “Roads filled with automated vehicles could also cooperate to smooth traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion,” NHTSA continues. “With automated vehicles, the time and money spent commuting could be put to better use. In many places across the country, employment or independent living rests on the ability to drive. Automated vehicles could extend that kind of freedom to millions more.”

But major hurdles lie ahead.

To be as safe as envisioned, AVs will need to see, understand, analyze, and react to everything around them through a complex system of sensors, radar, LiDAR (radar-like, using laser light), and visual and thermal cameras.

All that will add a lot of cost.

And how effective will those systems be in darkness and nasty weather? When dirt covers their lenses? When snow blankets lane markers and road edges?

“Inclement weather is a challenge,” says GM engineer Jason Fischer, “We are working with suppliers on advanced cleaning systems that will help us solve those problems.” Ford’s John Rich says, “All varieties of weather are being tested, and there will be a learning curve with capability expansion over time.”

Will AVs be programmed to protect their occupants at the expense of others? Which way will they dodge if they can’t stop to avoid a sudden pedestrian hit when the alternative may be an oncoming vehicle, a tree, a lake, or a cliff? “We have to make these vehicles better than humans,” Rich says, “constantly alert with better reflexes and better ability to avoid an accident. They may never be perfect, but if they are considerably better than humans, we almost have a moral imperative to put them on the road because we will be saving lives.”

And when someone inevitably is hurt or killed despite everyone’s best intentions and preventions, who will be liable? The vehicle’s owner? Its manufacturer? The software programmer? The town or city where the incident occurs? All of the above?

“Initially, the lawyers will sue everyone involved,” says Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor. “As these cases are settled and precedent established, it will become more clear. The automakers and others must have the utmost confidence in the safety of these systems.”

And will AVs be rolling roadblocks obeying all (often too slow) posted speed limits while everyone else swarms around them at 5-10 mph faster? Will they hold up traffic waiting for openings at non-stoplight intersections while streams of human-driven vehicles take advantage of their excessive caution?

“The vehicles are programmed to obey the law,” Rich points out. “We won’t be able to speed or do a lot of things you see human drivers doing today.”

Partial Autonomy

So that scenario of Level 5 “Full Automation” for privately owned vehicles looks to be a long way off…if ever. “Level 4 is essentially here now,” CAR’s Bailo points out. “Level 5 is later pending many other non-technical parameters such as regulation, public policy, legal and insurance.”

And no current AV is intended for private ownership.

“They will be able to move goods and people in a controlled environment,” Rich says, “but you will not be able to go out and buy one. They are difficult to manage and will require professional service to run.”

The good news is that Level 2 “Partial Automation” is available today.

Many new vehicles, even at very affordable prices, offer Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which adjusts speed to maintain a set gap behind the vehicle ahead, and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), which keeps your vehicle in its lane; and that combo allows hands-off cruising for a few seconds where road edges and lane markers are clearly visible to their cameras.

Some systems work better than others; you must pay full attention and be ready to take control at any time. The system will tell you when to take the wheel, and it will shut off if you don’t. One of the best we’ve tried is Cadillac’s Super Cruise, available on some models now and expanding to more, which will soon add an auto-lane-change feature. GM says its ultimate Super Cruise vision is hands-off driving capability 95 percent of the time on “enabled” (precisely GPS mapped) roads.

What we envision in the not-too-distant future is a potentially worrisome mix of driverless AVs sharing the roads with a large majority of human-driven cars and trucks. The AVs will be capable of communicating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) with each other and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) to avoid conflicts. Still, they will have to monitor everything around them continually and make assumptions (as alert drivers do) about other vehicles’ expected behavior.

Will you trust a vehicle with no driver (or controls) to shuttle you around, or will you prefer a human-driven Uber, Lyft, or taxi? Or to continue piloting those trips behind your own wheel? If you are not yet AV ready, you may be when your own capabilities someday diminish.

What the Analysts Say

“The development of autonomous vehicles continues to move forward steadily, though several automakers slowed their development in early 2020 and some commercialization targets were delayed. While there remains tremendous promise for the technology to ease congestion and contribute to reducing accidents, getting to the point where they are a fixture in the automotive landscape remains on the horizon. However, in 2021 and 2022, we expect to see deployments increase in limited situations. Waymo, GM, and Ford are among those most aggressive in this space in the US, along with the Aptiv-Hyundai joint venture Motional.”  – Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst, Automotive, IHS Markit

“Autonomous technology continues its march from test phase to widely-embraced, mainstream functionality. But the variety of circumstances facing a computer-controlled vehicle have proven far more difficult to address, delaying the 2020 arrival of self-driving cars that many were predicting as recently as 2018. Major obstacles include changing weather conditions and the impact they have on sensors, a standardized, functional communication network between cars (V2V) and infrastructure (V2X), and ensuring security against computer hackers. These hurdles will eventually be overcome, but we’re likely looking at 2025 or later before the average citizen can leverage autonomous vehicle technology on a wide scale. Look for the limited test zones in cities like Austin, Phoenix, and Miami to slowly spread across more metro areas as well as controlled environments, such as college and corporate campuses.” – Karl Brauer, executive analyst, iSeeCars

“The industry’s thinking about autonomous vehicles has evolved and focused on commercial fleets [and] delivery vehicles. AVs in the commercial vehicle space are like a laboratory experiment that will allow the opportunity to make sure the technology works and the gathering of data to glean insights about patterns of behavior of the users. The commercial vehicle business is lucrative. Automakers know how many orders they have and thus how many they need to produce versus the individual retail business that is unpredictable. – Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, AutoTrader

“Automakers have very ambitious plans to incorporate autonomous driving features into their vehicles. Most of this is a technology push rather than a consumer pull. Our data show that less than 10 percent of vehicle buyers want a fully autonomous vehicle. About 30 percent would consider some level of autonomy. Today’s ADAS [Advanced Driver Assistance Systems] are the first step that many drivers are experiencing on the road to autonomy. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering systems sometimes lets people drive for a short time, hands-free.

When we talk about Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy, the pandemic needs to be factored in. Car sharing, which was a cornerstone of some autonomous plans, looks more problematic now. How does a driver know the vehicle is clean and sanitary? – George Peterson, president, AutoPacific

“Autonomous cars that can drive anywhere and that you can buy at a dealership will not be available this decade. Maybe next decade. Tesla claims otherwise with its Full Self Driving, but it’s up to them to prove it since it’s been delayed multiple times. That said, 2020 is really the year of autonomous vehicles. They’re on the streets and running now. The technology is available, and it works. It’s expensive, but the cost is coming down fast. For now, AVs are relegated to geofenced areas that have been 3D mapped, but those fence posts keep moving. Waymo is covering a 50-square mile area in Phoenix that will soon expand to 100-square miles. For now, AVs make the most sense for fleets. They can run their vehicles almost continuously and amortize the cost of the AV equipment more easily.” – John McElroy, host, AutolineTV

“The best chance is in geo-fenced areas, not on public roads. The infrastructure is nowhere near ready for AVs, which are never going to be 100% safe. There is not enough computer code on the planet to cover all situations.” – Richard Truett, technology and engineering reporter, Automotive News

Self-Driving Vehicles – Available Soon? Part 1

By General Posts

From https://www.motorists.org By Gary Witzenburg, Automotive Senior Writer and Contributing Editor, President of the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year, and NMA Member.

Editor’s Note: HOUR Detroit Magazine has graciously permitted the NMA to publish this piece, which initially appeared in a slightly different version on its pages. Part 2 will be presented in next week’s newsletter.

Ready for your family outing, to the mall, then dinner. You call your car. It backs out of the garage and waits in your drive. You pile in and sit wherever you want since no one will drive. You face front, your spouse and kids swing their seats around to face each other.

You’ve told the car where to go, so it chooses the quickest route, obeying all stops and speed limits, keenly aware of what is happening around it. Someone steps off the curb ahead, and it slows, ready to stop if necessary. It warily eyes an errant dog cavorting to one side. You’re catching up on emails, your spouse is texting, the kids are enjoying video games. It lets you out at the mall, then zips off to park.

Shopping done, you call it to pick you up. Then it’s off to your favorite restaurant. After dinner, you catch a quick nap on your way home.

That is the scenario most envision when they think of self-driving vehicles. But how far off is that scenario? Assuming that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be wonderful for ride-sharing, ride-hailing, and deliveries (which will put a lot of drivers out of work) and that folks will happily embrace them for personal use whenever they become available and affordable, automakers and others have been investing billions of dollars in developing them.

But not everyone wants to give up driving. Some of us still enjoy it and will as long as we are capable.

Detroit Hard at Work
Automakers and others worldwide are testing and developing AVs on closed tracks and public roads while governments at all levels scramble to define rules and regulations for safe AV operation. Two Michigan facilities — the American Center for Mobility next to Willow Run airport in Ypsilanti Township and the 32-acre mock city called Mcity on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus — are dedicated to AV testing and development.

General Motors’ Cruise LLC subsidiary has been testing Chevrolet Bolt EV-based Cruise AVs in San Francisco and elsewhere while developing a fully autonomous (no driver, no controls) Origin A.V. with Honda for urban passenger and delivery service. Unveiled this January 2020, the self-driving, six-passenger Origin has production approval, and development prototypes are being tested at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds.

“We feel that Cruise has all the building blocks in place to lead in self-driving vehicles,” says GM President Mark Reuss, “and the first ones will be built right here at Factory Zero, our Detroit-Hamtramck assembly facility. In October, Cruise received a permit from the California DMV to remove human backup drivers from its self-driving cars. That means Cruise can send its cars out onto the streets of San Francisco without anyone at the wheel.”

Cruise should have Bolt-based driverless AVs running around San Francisco by the time you read this. “This is our moonshot,” says Cruise CEO Dan Amman. “The chaotic, gritty streets of San Francisco are our launchpad, and it’s where over two million miles of city testing will truly hit the road for the first time: an electric car, driving by itself, navigating one of the most difficult driving cities in the world.” In addition, Walmart plans to start testing automated deliveries using Cruise AVs in Scottsdale, AZ, early this year.

GM’s bold commitment to no-driver AVs, focusing first on city transportation, is one major element of its ambitious vision of a world with “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.”

“We operate AVs in very clearly defined geofenced areas within the city that we have mapped,” chief engineer of the Cruise Origin Jason Fischer. “We will not go into areas that we haven’t mapped.” And while current Cruise AVs retain their steering wheel and pedals so a driver can take control if needed, the Cruise Origin does not. “There will be no ability to take control of the vehicle,” Fischer says. “The autonomous driving system will always be in control.”

Ford, partnered with technology developer Argo AI, has tested AVs (with safety drivers) on Michigan Ave. around Michigan Central Station. The automaker has established AV terminals, command centers, and high-resolution mapping for ride-hailing and deliveries in Austin, TX, Miami, FL, and Washington, DC, beginning in 2022. The company is also testing AVs in Pittsburgh and Palo Alto, CA. The Ford/Argo AI program will “assess the need for a safety driver and make a decision based on several factors, including the regulatory environment, safety performance data and an appropriate level of community acceptance” before operating without one.

“We are very focused on level 4 [see graphic above],” says Ford Autonomous Vehicles and director John Rich, “removing the driver from the equation and operating within a geonet.” A geonet, he explains, is different from a geofence, within which AVs should be able to self-drive anywhere. “We will initially choose not to drive some places within that area, but our geonet will expand as we move forward.”

Ford/Argo AI’s fourth-generation self-driving vehicles are Escape Hybrids equipped with the latest advanced sensing and computing technology. “We have upgraded our sensing suite with even more advanced LiDAR, higher resolution cameras, and more capable radar sensors,” says Ford Autonomous Vehicles chief engineer John Davis. “Combined, this helps improve detection of fixed and moving objects on all sides…providing a blind-spot curtain, detecting things like a passing car or bicyclist in a nearby bike lane.” A larger high-voltage battery supports these vehicles’ heavy electrical loads. A sophisticated sensor-cleaning system with forced-air chambers and high-pressure spray nozzles keeps its sensors and camera lenses clean.

Stellantis is partnered with self-driving technology company Waymo. Launched in 2009 as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, Waymo has developed a Level 4 Waymo Driver system that powers Waymo One, a ride-hailing service, and Waymo Via for trucking and deliveries. It claims 20 million-plus miles of autonomous driving on public roads in 25 US cities and 15 billion miles of simulation testing and is now offering AV rides to the public in Phoenix.

“Our now four-year partnership with Waymo continues to break new ground,” says Stellantis CEO Mike Manley. “By incorporating the Waymo Driver, the world’s leading self-driving technology, into our Pacifica minivans, we became the only partnership actually deploying fully autonomous technology in the real world, on public roads.” Stellantis is also working exclusively with Waymo on light commercial vehicles such as Ram ProMaster vans for deliveries and plans to expand it across its product line.

“Stellantis was our first OEM partner, and we’ve come a long way together,” says Waymo CEO John Krafcik. “Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans were the first vehicles in our Waymo One fleet and, guided by the Waymo Driver, have now safely and reliably driven more fully autonomous miles than any other vehicle on the planet. Together, we’ll introduce the Waymo Driver throughout the Stellantis brand portfolio, opening up new frontiers for ride-hailing, commercial delivery, and personal use vehicles around the world.”

Meanwhile, a very ambitious “connected corridor” linking downtown Detroit to Ann Arbor (and Metro Airport) along some 40 miles of Michigan Ave. (US 12) and Washtenaw Ave. (M-17) is in the planning stages.

“At the outset, the vision calls for one dedicated interior lane for both the east and west side of Michigan Ave,” writes editor R.J. King in the Nov./Dec. issue of DBusiness magazine. “Those two lanes will need barriers at first, to separate autonomous from general traffic including pedestrians. Several crosswalks will be needed, traffic lights must be coordinated, and all manner of hardware and software is required to connect GPS satellites, cellular arrays, Wi-Fi systems, sensors, and underground fiber cables.” An alternative plan suggests using a new lane along I-94 instead of Michigan Ave.

According to King, this project’s vision began with Ford executive chairman Bill Ford. It will be managed by Cavnue, a subsidiary of New-York-based Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, working with Michigan’s Department of Transportation, Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, Economic Development Corp., and Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, along with state and local partners, stakeholders and communities.

“The project will be designed to evolve to meet transportation goals,” he writes, “but in the beginning, the dedicated lanes will accommodate linked buses and shared mobility vehicles such as vans and shuttles and expand to other connected and autonomous vehicles like freight and personal vehicles.” Phase one completion is targeted for the second half of 2022.

Click Here to Read part 2 of Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles –Available Soon (Yes and No). Gary explains the critical missions and asks the experts how soon we will see AVs on the road.

UK Motorcycle sales see post-pandemic bounce back

By General Posts

by Felicity Donohoe from https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk

UK motorcycle sales have shown a healthy post-pandemic recovery with figures revealing a fresh enthusiasm for purchasing new machines – including EVs.

Recent data from the Motor Cycle Industry Association shows that 13,398 units were sold in May 2021, an increase of 148.4% compared with May 2020, with sales topping 43,242 for the first five months of this year and across all segments.

Adventure Sport and Naked categories were up 242% and 197% in sales (2,449 and 4,567 respectively) in May but EVs have found a place in the revived market, seeing 509 sales in May 2021 compared to 119 sales last May.

The sales reflect the interest in alternatives to cars and public transport solutions, along with the financial, environmental and practical benefits that riding offers.

Tony Campbell, CEO of MCIA said: “May’s figures are against a time in 2020 when the first wave of the pandemic had hit. We forecast a positive summer for the sale of PTWs (powered two wheelers) and associated products as restrictions ease, and the backlog of those awaiting CBT and testing reduces.

“As life returns to normal and people return to their leisure pursuits we’ll be ensuring our close links with Government consider PTWs at every opportunity.”

Top 10 motorcycle sales May 2021

  1. Honda: 2,392
  2. Yamaha: 1,717
  3. Triumph: 1,133
  4. BMW: 1,009
  5. Kawasaki: 810
  6. KTM: 652
  7. Lexmoto: 418
  8. Harley-Davidson: 404
  9. Royal Enfield: 397
  10. Ducati: 388

Ride To Work Day gets encouragement from Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program

By General Posts

by Georgia Department of Driver Services from https://www.northwestgeorgianews.com

Monday, June 21, is the 30th International Motorcycle and Scooter Ride To Work Day.

The Department of Driver Services (DDS) Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) encourages all motorcyclists and scooter riders to help show support and raise motorcycle safety awareness with their commute to work.

“Riding a motorcycle to work is a great commute option for those who are properly licensed and capable of safely handling a motorcycle,” said DDS Commissioner Spencer R. Moore. “If you are not properly licensed, please, consider a GMSP training class to ensure you are sharing the road safely.”

June marks the official start of summer, and as the weather temperature rises, so will the number of motorcycles and scooters on the road. Motorists paying attention and sharing the road with two-wheel and three-wheel riders are imperative to the safety of motorcyclists and can help lower the rate of two-vehicle motorcycle-related traffic collisions.

“Motorcyclists already know how much fun it is to ride and how easy motorcycles and scooters are to maneuver in traffic and to park,” said Holly Hegyesi, GSMP program manager and avid motorcyclist. “Ride To Work Day helps call attention to the benefits of riding a motorcycle and gives us a chance to share our enthusiasm with non-riders.”

Ride To Work Day is celebrated on the third Monday in June and is a call for riders from all walks of life to come together to show how motorcycles and scooters are an economical form of transportation.

A motorcycle work commute can be more fuel-efficient and take up less space compared to passenger cars.

Although motorcycle riding is fun and brings many riders joy, it also comes with risks that support the mission behind GMSP to improve the safety of motorcyclists on Georgia’s streets and highways.

Ride to Work Day is a perfect opportunity for motorists to identify with the people under the helmet, have discussions on how everyone can work together to keep Georgia’s roads safe and highlight the need for rider education.

A RiderCourse offers motorcyclists and scooter riders fundamental safe riding techniques in a range of courses led by certified RiderCoaches. In addition to the trainer bikes available in the Basic RiderCourse, students have the option to ride their scooters if they meet the requirements.

To learn more information on rider education courses, RiderCourse locations, and motorcycle safety, visit https://dds.georgia.gov/motorcycle-safety-program-faqs.

The Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) is a part of the Georgia Department of Driver Services. In addition to regulating rider education programs, the GMSP also promotes motorist awareness programs and share the road campaigns, and is focused on highway safety issues affecting Georgia motorcyclists.

For more information visit dds.georgia.gov/motorcycle-license.

How The Pandemic Has Kick-Started a Motorcycle Boom

By General Posts

by Emila Smith

It is hard to think about silver linings amidst a devastating pandemic. However, despite the crumbling health systems and faltering businesses, many people have found ways to keep their heads up. They are taking this as an opportunity to enjoy a COVID-triggered breath of fresh air.

The pandemic has kick-started a global motorcycle boom. More people are turning to their two-wheelers to break away from the stress and fears, enjoy the outdoors, and ease movement.

According to a Bloomberg report, motorcycle industry leaders are optimistic. Eric Pritchard of the Motorcycle Industry Council looked forward to the best run since 2016. Like tech-based companies, motorcycle companies look forward to explosive growth during this COVID-19 season.

But what are the reasons behind this motorcycle boom?

As the experts at McKinsey would say, “The pandemic reshaped what consumers buy and how they go about getting it.” Previously, motorcycle sales were low because people considered it a risky affair. Bike riders had a disproportionately high number of accidents, and people were grey concerning handling injury and claims. But it looks like the tide is turning. The pandemic has somehow caused a shift in how people perceive motorcycling. It is no longer a stressful, hair-raising activity, but one pursued its health benefits.

Read on and learn how wellness-craving buyers are causing a motorcycle boom.

A COVID-Triggered Breath of Life
Before the pandemic, dark clouds were hanging over the motorcycle industry in the US. There were not enough new buyers to replace those who were giving up their two-wheelers. According to  Statista.com, sales peaked in 2015 when industry sales stood at about 500,000 units. But the figures plummeted in subsequent years. Motorcycle companies like Harley Davidson were on the deathbed for a long time.

But then COVID-19 happened. Lockdowns, social distancing, and other containment measures meant stress. Mental and physical wellness were the words that would inject new hope into the struggling industry, and the global sales figures show it.

In Asia and Europe, motorcycle companies in countries like China, Germany, and the Netherlands surpassed their year-on-year growth projections. Overall, global industry leaders anticipate that the two-wheeler market will grow from about $74billion (a rate of 5.3%). There are economic reasons behind this growth as well as social motivations.

Growth in Supporting Businesses
The COVID-driven growth of e-commerce is primarily due to the shift to working from home. As people stay at home, the demand for courier services is surging.

Whether it is Uber eats or Deliveroo, motorcycles are the preferred transport solution for courier services. During the pandemic, industry leaders like Uber eats have reported exceptional growth, triggering an increase in the number of riders. The same was the case for Deliveroo in London. They added 15,000 new riders.

But it’s not only economic reasons that are driving the motorcycle boom. Riding a motorcycle can improve a person’s well-being. We think this takes the chunk of why the pandemic kick-started the motorcycle boom, and here is how.

Motorcycles are An Affordable Escape from COVID-19 Worries
Lockdowns and the demand to stay at home or work from home cause fatigue and tension. People need ways to blow off the steam, and motorcycles provide an excellent route to achieve relief.

Biking is an affordable way to escape the tumults of urban lifestyles and get lost in the open spaces of the countryside. The release and joy of riding is an excellent remedy for stress and tension.

According to the Bloomberg report, dealers in “open space states” like California, some regions in Florida, and Kentucky have experienced exponential sales in the last couple of months. Industry leaders have particularly noted an increase in demand for outdoor and adventure models.

Enthusiasm to Explore
As the pandemic continues to devastate lives and communities, people are turning to new ways to cope. More people are channeling their dreams and pains through their two-wheeled companions.

Many Americans have turned to their two-wheeled companions for stress relief and to build a sense of community. Founders of women’s biking movements, Kelly Yazdi and Porsche Taylor, told cntraveler.com how they saw this as an opportunity to inspire women to ride across the country and help ‘sisters’ cope. And it is driving the average number of riders up.

An Excellent Way to Commute
Travelling within cities and other urban spaces is often marred by traffic jams. Many people detest the downtime and opt to use public transport. However, COVID-19 rendered public transport a not-very-safe way to travel.

Many people who opted not to stay confined in cars chose motorcycles, driving the numbers up. Two-wheelers became a natural choice for urban dwellers who wanted to get to their destinations fast without compromising social distance or other COVID containment measures.

Riding is not only safer but also a faster way to get to your destination. Although lane splitting is not legal in many parts of the US, there is no doubt that it is easier to weave through traffic gridlocks when on a motorcycle. Every month motorcycle riders in London save an average of seven hours and about 140 (about $198) on their commute. Saving time and money has a tremendous positive impact on mental wellness. It is a good reason why the motorcycle figures are staying up.

Makes Environmental Sense
Beating traffic feels awesome; doing it while you are going green also boosts your mental wellness.

The carbon footprint of manufacturing and operating a motorcycle is a fraction of that of a motor vehicle. Manufacturing and running an electric bike leaves an even smaller carbon footprint. Environmentally sensitive buyers are aware of this, and they are saying they want more bikes through their wallets.

The pandemic inspired a 145% growth in electric bike sales in the US. They get to their destination faster, boosting their mood, and they feel good about the environment.

Bottom Line
Behind the pandemic-driven boom is the need for overall wellness. People have realized that biking is not the high-risk activity they perceived it to be. But by observing the safety guidelines and learning a thing or two about handling injury and compensation, riding a motorcycle can turn into a mentally rewarding pastime.

The wellness rewards of riding have kick-started the motorcycle boom.

Why shortages of a $1 chip sparked crisis in the global economy

By General Posts

by Bloomberg from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

The chip crunch was born out of an understandable miscalculation as the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. When Covid-19 began spreading from China to the rest of the world, many companies anticipated people would cut back as times got tough.

To understand why the $450 billion semiconductor industry has lurched into crisis, a helpful place to start is a one-dollar part called a display driver.

Hundreds of different kinds of chips make up the global silicon industry, with the flashiest ones from Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. going for $100 apiece to more than $1,000. Those run powerful computers or the shiny smartphone in your pocket. A display driver is mundane by contrast: Its sole purpose is to convey basic instructions for illuminating the screen on your phone, monitor or navigation system.

The trouble for the chip industry — and increasingly companies beyond tech, like automakers — is that there aren’t enough display drivers to go around. Firms that make them can’t keep up with surging demand so prices are spiking. That’s contributing to short supplies and increasing costs for liquid crystal display panels, essential components for making televisions and laptops, as well as cars, airplanes and high-end refrigerators.

“It’s not like you can just make do. If you have everything else, but you don’t have a display driver, then you can’t build your product,” says Stacy Rasgon, who covers the semiconductor industry for Sanford C. Bernstein.

Now the crunch in a handful of such seemingly insignificant parts — power management chips are also in short supply, for example — is cascading through the global economy. Automakers like Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG have already scaled back production, leading to estimates for more than $60 billion in lost revenue for the industry this year.

The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. A rare winter storm in Texas knocked out swaths of U.S. production. A fire at a key Japan factory will shut the facility for a month. Samsung Electronics Co. warned of a “serious imbalance” in the industry, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said it can’t keep up with demand despite running factories at more than 100% of capacity.

“I have never seen anything like this in the past 20 years since our company’s founding,” said Jordan Wu, co-founder and chief executive officer of Himax Technologies Co., a leading supplier of display drivers. “Every application is short of chips.”

2021-semiconductors-chips-shortage-inline
The chip crunch was born out of an understandable miscalculation as the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. When Covid-19 began spreading from China to the rest of the world, many companies anticipated people would cut back as times got tough.

“I slashed all my projections. I was using the financial crisis as the model,” says Rasgon. “But demand was just really resilient.”

People stuck at home started buying technology — and then kept buying. They purchased better computers and bigger displays so they could work remotely. They got their kids new laptops for distance learning. They scooped up 4K televisions, game consoles, milk frothers, air fryers and immersion blenders to make life under quarantine more palatable. The pandemic turned into an extended Black Friday onlinepalooza.

Automakers were blindsided. They shut factories during the lockdown while demand crashed because no one could get to showrooms. They told suppliers to stop shipping components, including the chips that are increasingly essential for cars.

Then late last year, demand began to pick up. People wanted to get out and they didn’t want to use public transportation. Automakers reopened factories and went hat in hand to chipmakers like TSMC and Samsung. Their response? Back of the line. They couldn’t make chips fast enough for their still-loyal customers.

A year of poor planning led to carmakers’ massive chip shortage
Himax’s Jordan Wu is in the middle of the tech industry’s tempest. On a recent March morning, the bespectacled 61-year-old agreed to meet at his Taipei office to discuss the shortages and why they are so challenging to resolve. He was eager enough to talk that interview was scheduled for the same morning Bloomberg News requested it, with two of his staff joining in person and another two dialing in by phone. He wore a mask throughout the interview, speaking carefully and articulately.

Wu founded Himax in 2001 with his brother Biing-seng, now the company’s chairman. They started out making driver ICs (for integrated circuits), as they’re known in the industry, for notebook computers and monitors. They went public in 2006 and grew with the computer industry, expanding into smartphones, tablets and touch screens. Their chips are now used in scores of products, from phones and televisions to automobiles.

Wu explained that he can’t make more display drivers by pushing his workforce harder. Himax designs display drivers and then has them manufactured at a foundry like TSMC or United Microelectronics Corp. His chips are made on what’s artfully called “mature node” technology, equipment at least a couple generations behind the cutting-edge processes. These machines etch lines in silicon at a width of 16 nanometers or more, compared with 5 nanometers for high-end chips.?

The chip’s makers have seen their shares soar with strong demand
The bottleneck is that these mature chip-making lines are running flat out. Wu says the pandemic drove such strong demand that manufacturing partners can’t make enough display drivers for all the panels that go into computers, televisions and game consoles — plus all the new products that companies are putting screens into, like refrigerators, smart thermometers and car-entertainment systems.

There’s been a particular squeeze in driver ICs for automotive systems because they’re usually made on 8-inch silicon wafers, rather than more advanced 12-inch wafers. Sumco Corp., one of the leading wafer manufacturers, reported production capacity for 8-inch equipment lines was about 5,000 wafers a month in 2020 — less than it was in 2017.

No one is building more mature-node manufacturing lines because it doesn’t make economic sense. The existing lines are fully depreciated and fine-tuned for almost perfect yields, meaning basic display drivers can be made for less than a dollar and more advanced versions for not much more. Buying new equipment and starting off at lower yields would mean much higher expenses.

“Building new capacity is too expensive,” Wu says. Peers like Novatek Microelectronics Corp., also based in Taiwan, have the same constraints.

That shortfall is showing up in a spike in LCD prices. A 50-inch LCD panel for televisions doubled in price between January 2020 and this March. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Matthew Kanterman projects that LCD prices will keep rising at least until the third quarter. There is a “a dire shortage” of display driver chips, he said.

LCD Prices Are Surging
Aggravating the situation is a lack of glass. Major glass makers reported accidents at their production sites, including a blackout at a Nippon Electric Glass Co.’s factory in December and an explosion at AGC Fine Techno Korea’s factory in January. Production will likely remain constrained at least through summer this year, display consultancy DSCC Co-founder Yoshio Tamura said.

On April 1, I-O Data Device Inc., a major Japanese computer peripherals maker, raised the price of their 26 LCD monitors by 5,000 yen on average, the biggest increase since they began selling the monitors two decades ago. A spokeswoman said the company can’t make any profit without the increases due to rising costs for components.

All of this has been a boon to Himax’s business. Sales are surging and its stock price has tripled since November.

But the CEO isn’t celebrating. His whole business is built around giving customers what they want, so his inability to meet their requests at such a critical time is frustrating. He doesn’t expect the crunch, especially for automotive components, to end any time soon.

“We have not reached a position where we can see the light at the end of tunnel yet,” Wu said.

Players dominating Electric Bike Market

By General Posts

by Joe D’Allegro from https://www.cnbc.com

  • Harley Davidson and Honda are among the dominant motorcycle makers with big plans in electric bikes.
  • Harley also recently announced that it is spinning off a nascent electric bicycle business.
  • Uber is among the top investors in electric scooter company Lime, which just posted its first quarterly profit, while competitor Bird is reportedly planning to soon go public via a SPAC.
  • NIU Technologies, which makes smart scooters, has seen its share price soar.

Tesla reached a $500 billion market valuation this week, a sign of its dominance in the electric vehicle market. But Elon Musk has shown no real interest in one growing EV segment: battery-powered scooters and motorcycles. An accident he suffered as a youth on a motorbike — nearly fatal, Musk has said — turned him off two-wheelers, for now. But the manufacturing of battery powered bikes is growing and consolidating, which means it’s likely to produce one or more dominant players in the years to come.

The electric motorcycle and scooter market reached $30 billion in 2019, according to a June 2020 report by Preeti Wadhwani and Prasenjit Saha from the research company Global Market Insights (GMI). They estimated that the market — which includes everything from large motorcycles meant for interstate cruising to tiny stand-up scooters as used by Lime and Bird — will grow more than 4% annually for the next few years and hit $40 billion in 2026.

Concerns over vehicular emissions, increasing consumer awareness about air pollution, and increasing investments by government authorities in the development of EV charging infrastructure are all expected to keep the market growing. Another factor boosting electric bike prospects is the continued improvement in batteries.

E-bikes, scooters and motorcycles

Electric motorcycles and scooters are still relatively pricey, and none yet matches the range of the best gas bikes, but that’s slowly changing. Lithium ion battery costs are down 85% in the last decade, said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research. Within another 10 years, electric motorcycles can achieve price parity with gas bikes, he predicts.

“The playing field is wide open,” says Nelson. He noted that Honda, Yamaha and Harley-Davidson together control about two-thirds of the global motorcycle market, and are each developing electric motorbikes. So too are other big established players, such as the Indian-multinationals Hero Motors and Bajaj Auto, and some smaller electric-only startups, including Zero Motorcycles and Energetica.

Electric mobility is leading to a manufacturing boom for vehicles sized between small foldable scooters and full-on motorcycles, said Sam Korus, an analyst at ARK Invest, which is known for its big bet on Tesla. Uber led a round of investment in Lime earlier this year, while Bird is reportedly considering a public offering through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Troy Siahaan, a road test editor at Motorcycle.com, races a lightweight custom-built electric bike, giving him insight into the similarities and differences between gas and electric two-wheelers.

“The riding experience of an electric bike is similar to gas-powered motorcycles in that you twist the throttle and go,” he said, “but you don’t get sound, vibration or engine heat with electric bikes. By and large, they also don’t require shifting, so they’re easier for new riders than most gas bikes.”

Siahaan also likes the torque output — a measure of the acceleration — of electric bikes, since it is all available at the outset.

Nelson noted that most growth right now is in the small- to mid-sized section of the electric motorcycle and scooter market. These are popular in China and Southeast Asia, where two-wheelers are more common as a mode of transportation, and pollution and noise reduction are socially and environmentally appealing.

Post-Covid-19 demand in urban mobility

Korus said Chinese scooter manufacturer NIU is among the promising players operating in the space between small folding scooters and large motorcycles. The company, which went public in 2018, sells its app-supported smart scooters in 38 countries across Asia, Europe and North and South America. Its stock has risen sharply. The stylish sit-on scooters offer up to 87 miles of range (140 km), multi-color dynamic gauge displays and GPS-based anti-theft systems.

NIU’s primary competition are low-cost manufacturers in China, which make scooters that are less “smart” than its offerings, as well as the higher-end players out of Asia and Europe, which tend to be priced higher. A NIU model may sell for roughly $3,100, while a comparable Honda is over $5,000, a Vespa over $7,000, and a BMW anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, according to Vincent Yu, a Needham & Co. analyst.

Korus noted that NIU’s software actively collects data that can be used to support autonomous driving and allows the company to add value on top of just selling products. This is also a key feature of Tesla’s business model, which ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood has pointed to in her bullish thesis on Musk’s company. But for NIU, monetization of autonomous driving may be fairly far off into the future. Yu said today there is high value in the smart features focused on theft prevention and vehicle maintenance, for example, knowing when parts need replacement. Its lightweight lithium-ion batteries are also an advantage over heavier, older electric scooters as consumers look for more portable batteries that are easier to swap in and out.

A big question for NIU is just how big the market can get and whether it can grow both manufacturing capacity and a retail store network along with it, Yu said. Asia is still heavily reliant on petroleum-based scooters, especially Southeast Asia, but that is changing. And, as the world emerges from the Covid pandemic, Yu is betting more travelers will shy away from mass transit and opt for scooters. In countries like China, they are much easier to obtain than cars thanks to lower costs and less regulation and permitting requirements, especially in larger cities.

NIU commands over 26% of the Chinese e-scooter sales market, and has risen in Europe to No. 3 over the past two years. Yu added that NIU is building a new factory, targeting major Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia, and adding more stores around the world to capitalize on the demand. In Q3, the company opened 182 stores and now has another 100 under construction.

Harley-Davidson and the electric future

In the U.S., smaller motorcycles suitable for urban transportation and only occasional highway use are not as popular as in Asia and Europe. Nelson said U.S. buyers tend to be older and favor larger bikes with traditional looks and the signature sounds of a combustion engine.

Harley-Davidson, the largest and oldest U.S. motorcycle manufacturer, has addressed these buyers with its LiveWire, an electric motorcycle with traditional cruiser styling and an impressive 105 horsepower that lets it accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a quick 3.1 seconds. The LiveWire is 7-feet long and nearly 550 pounds, giving it the size and weight to fit in with the company’s mainstream gas-powered offerings, but, at $30,000, it’s just too expensive for many potential customers.

With the traditional American motorcycle buyer aging, Harley sales are down almost 40% since their peak in 2006. “Demographics will be a problem for them,” Nelson said.

Harley is committed to electric under a relatively new management team, led by CEO Jochen Zeitz, who earned high marks for his focus on sustainability as CEO of Puma. “We believe electric needs to play an important role in the future of Harley-Davidson,” he recently told Wall Street analysts. He said sales volumes are low relative to traditional bikes, but added, “It must be an important segment in the long term future of the company and it’s also attracting new riders, new customers to the brand that might not have considered Harley-Davidson before.”

Craig Kennison, who covers Harley for RW Baird, said the priority for Zeitz and his team is to shore up Harley’s finances and focus its business on the key markets where it can generate the most profits from core consumers today, and it will continue to generate the vast majority of its business from its V-twin internal combustion engine cycles (sales for LiveWire are not disclosed but the assumption is they remain very minor). “It’s not a big number,” Kennison said.

Similar to the path chosen by Tesla to first focus on the luxury consumer, Harley needs to perfect the electric motorcycle technology and given the price points today — it cannot alone control the cost curve in key areas like battery technology — only over time will it become more affordable to a larger consumer market. But if Harley makes the right decisions on current profitability centers, it will support the investment in electric vehicles over the decades to come, he said. “Right now Harley has a huge market and needs to make as much money as they can, and servicing the core customer, which is still highly profitable, is the focus.”

Harley is headed into the pedal bicycle market as well. It recently announced that it will spin off its electric bicycle effort, which has been in research and development for a few years, retaining a minority stake in the new firm, Serial 1 Company, a reference to its first-ever machine.

Targeting the e-bicycle market, with pricing below $5,000, is a smart move by Harley’s new management, as it makes the brand affordable for the masses in a growing segment, said Brandon Rolle, Northcoast Research analyst. And similar to NIU’s target scooter market, riders may not need a driver’s license to operate these vehicles, which will help in Harley-Davidson’s appeal to urban commuters and casual recreational cyclists.

High-end bicycle makers like Specialized have an early lead in this market — e-bikes which generate power that is multiplied by the human pedaling activity — and it does have the potential for widespread appeal in the future, according to Kennison. “It lets ‘the everyman’ get on the road … especially during the pandemic people want to get outside and bicycling is a great way to do it, but depending on your fitness level, having the added electrical power creates a totally different experience. You can go 20 to 50 miles and it changes the appeal” he said.

Harley’s motorcycle competitors

In the near future, pent up demand for outdoor products caused by Covid-19 could benefit motorcycle makers, including Harley, which has had a “rough last five years” according to Wedbush Securities analyst James Hardiman. “A lot of investors have looked at Harley-Davidson and the broader motorcycle one as not benefitting,” from the new outdoors boom, the analyst said. But industry sales and used sales are both up, and those are precursors for a broader-based recovery in bike sales, Hardiman recently told CNBC. While the bear case about the aging demographics isn’t going away, it has been that way for a decade already, he said.

Among Harley’s competitors for the future full-size motorcycle buyer are not just traditional players like Honda and Yamaha, but Zero and Energetica, which have some of the most advanced electric bike technology currently available, Siahaan said.

Zero, founded in Santa Cruz, California, in 2006, isn’t a household name, but it’s one of the most established players in the field. It began selling electric motorcycles in 2009, making it one of the very first production two-wheelers (the earliest production electric motorcycles and scooters appeared in the 1970s and 1990s, respectively, but enjoyed limited success).

Zero’s current all-electric line-up includes everything from the FX, a small on- and off-road capable “dual-sport” motorcycle starting at $9,300, all the way up to the SR/S sportbike which starts at $20,000. The 110-horsepower SR/S can reach 124 miles per hour and is capable of more than 200 miles of range when equipped with an enhanced battery. The FR/S is so advanced Road and Track alluded to Zero getting close to the being the Tesla of two wheels in its review. Zero offers it with an app that lets users modify the bikes maximum speed, power, torque and regenerative braking parameters.

Zero reached a 10-year deal with Polaris, a recreational vehicle powerhouse, that should give it the resources to further expand manufacturing and distribution. It will bring Zero’s powertrain technology and software to Polaris’ lineup of snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

The high-end brand Energetica was formed in 2010 as a subsidiary of CRP Group, a motorsport and aviation manufacturer based in Modena, Italy. It offers a small lineup of attractively styled bikes starting at $17,600 for the general-purpose Eva EsseEsse9, and ending with the top-of-the-line Ego+. The latter is a 145-horsepower sportbike with an eye-watering starting price of nearly $24,000, but a 150 mph top speed and up to 250 miles of range.

Saha of the Global Marketing Institute told CNBC that the company is investing highly in R&D and owns several patents related to electric vehicle manufacturing in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Of course, as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, Honda Motorcycles of Japan, is not standing still. It recently filed patents for electric-powered versions of its CB125R and CB300R, these are small, easy to manage general purpose bikes with “café racer” styling.

Saha notes that Honda is also making large investments in the development of swappable battery technology for electric motorcycles to allow riders to quickly replace the batteries after use. These moves, and factors like its global dealer and distribution network will aid Honda, Saha said.

Tesla moving beyond cars

And then there is Tesla. Though Musk has said the company will not produce a road bike, he has announced plans to release an electric all-terrain vehicle, the Cyberquad, late in 2021, and has at least teased the possibility of one day making a two-wheeled electric bike. In the least, Tesla could easily pivot a portion of its battery business to supplying other manufacturers, says Nelson.

Generating revenue is a big concern for any start-up, but especially in the electric motorcycle space, where federal and state-level regulation abound and consumer expectations are high. Many of the companies that first entered the electric two-wheeler market place have failed or been absorbed by larger players. This includes Brammo, which launched in 2002 and sold bikes with six-speed transmissions like those in traditional gas bikes rather than the single-speed automatics most electric manufacturers use. It was first purchased by the recreational vehicle maker Polaris in 2015, then engine maker Cummins in 2017. Brammo-branded bikes are no longer sold, but its technology lives on with its purchasers.

A similar fate befell Alta Motors, a maker of technologically advanced off-road electric bikes. The company shuttered operations in 2018 and its assets were taken over by Bombardier’s Recreational Products business in 2019 for use across its product lineup, which includes Ski Doo snowmobiles and the Can-Am line of three-wheel motorcycles.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future,” Siahaan said. “A lot of companies come out with big, bold announcements, but never even come to market.”

“It’s very early, so it is difficult to see how it all plays out, but that’s typical of a true growth market,” added Kennison.

Yamaha Tricity 300 is the ideal Covid commuter machine

By General Posts

by Rob Hull from https://www.dailymail.co.uk

Covid commuter: Yamaha’s three-wheel Tricity 300 can be ridden with just a car licence and used in bus lanes – is it the answer for safe pandemic transport?

For those of us living or working in cities, getting around has been a whole lot more complicated in 2020.

With the Government repeatedly telling us to keep away from public transport if at all possible and traffic returning to near pre-pandemic levels, as more people use their cars, many have been left to make the difficult decision of taking risks with their well-being or enduring hours a week in jams to get to work.

But there could be an answer to the problem – and it comes with three wheels.

It’s called the Yamaha Tricity. And while it might look like a cross between a scooter and a Transformer, it could be the ideal commuting machine during the Covid pandemic…

I live in London and am one of the lucky ones who has been able to return to a coronavirus-compliant office a few days a week to escape the rigmorale of home working.

But having winced each time after touching a hand-rail on the bus or grumbled at the sight of people without face masks on the underground, I began researching alternative transportation options.

That’s when I stumbled across the new Tricity 300, which was released earlier this year.

As is the dead giveaway in the name, it has three wheels and a 300cc (well, it’s actually 292cc) single-cylinder engine.

Scooters like this are not out of the ordinary these days; Piaggio launched the first three-wheeler – the MP3 – way back in 2006, and it’s become a popular choice along with rival tripod scooters, especially among commuters and delivery riders in London and other major cities.

Yamaha Tricity 300 has loopholes to make it perfect for pandemic commuting

But the Tricity 300 has a few tricks up its sleeve. That’s because – unlike other tripod scooters – you don’t need to hold a motorcycle licence of any type to ride it.

If you’re over the age of 21 and have a full car licence you can drive one without having to undertake any extra training – even if you’ve never sat on a motorbike of any type before in your life.

This is due to a stipulation about the distance between the two front wheels.

The gap between them – 470mm – and the fact it has a foot pedal brake means the Tricity 300 qualifies as a trike rather than a motorcycle.

That means a ‘B’ car licence is adequate to ride one and, in theory, you don’t even have to wear a helmet – though we’d dissuade you from doing so on safety grounds and that it would likely to make you popular with police officers.

You can even take a passenger on the back, which is also fully within the rules.

And the Tricity has a few other loopholes up its sleeve that make it appeal to a wider audience than just dedicated bikers.

Not least the fact you can use it in bus lanes, which are free to access on a trike with a weight of less than 450kg in London – with the Tricity tipping the scales at almost half that (239kg). Perfect, for bombing past car drivers backed-up on congested routes.

You can also use dedicated motorcycle parking bays that are dotted around metropolises.

The one downside I discovered is, because of its length, it is not exempt from the Congestion Charge, which could mean taking the odd diversion if you’re destination is in – or route is via – central London.

How easy is it for novice riders?

As an experienced motorcyclist (I’ve been riding motorbikes since I was six), it took a little time for me to reset my brain to understand not just riding but handling a three-wheeled scooter from a novice’s perspective.

The first thing anyone would notice is that it’s a bit of a lump to wheel around – and most of the weight is top heavy due to the oddball front suspension system.

However, Yamaha has equipped the Tricity with something called ‘Standing Assist’, which is a button on the left handlebar that, when activated, locks the front forks in a fixed upright position.

This makes it far easier to wheel the bike around, whether that’s to manoeuvre it in a garage or slot it into a small space in a bike parking bay. So much so, in fact, that you can push it back and forth with one finger without having to worry about the bike toppling over.

The assist system can also be triggered when you’re slowing to a standstill, in traffic or when stopping at a junction for instance.

Creep below 8mph and an orange light illuminates on the digital dashboard to say it can be activated before the clocks hit 0mph.

It means you never have to put your feet down, if you can get the hang of it.

It sounds easy in theory, but it does take some time to master – even more so for a novice rider with just a car driving licence to their name.

That said, it rapidly become second nature, and you’ll quickly be levitating at every set of traffic lights.

Once you open the throttle – even the lightest twist of the grip – the Standing Assist automatically deactivates and the front end can freely rock from side-to-side again, so you need to give it some welly if you haven’t got a sole on the tarmac.

Once on the move, the Tricity is a nimble vehicle. Even at low speeds, it takes very little effort to lever it from one side to the other. The biggest compliment I can give it is that it feels very much like a conventional motorcycle at pace.

And it’s not slow. Even with just 28bhp at the back wheel and a weight of around a quarter of a tonne, it fires off the line with plenty of urgency.

It also comes with traction control on standard, which cuts the power if the rear wheel spins up on damp tarmac or if you’re too hamfisted – a safety feature rarely available on a scooter of this size.

Flat out, it will – reportedly – accelerate over an indicated 80mph, and thanks to the large fairing it offers ample wind protection if you do take it out on a motorway.

Security you just won’t find on two wheels

By far the biggest benefit of a scooter of this ilk is that it gives you something you’ll always lack on a motorcycle, and that’s added an added sense of security.

With two wheels out front, you could ride it across an ice rink and not fall off it.

It delivers this sensation of safety in droves and you quickly build up confidence to tip into corners in the wet without a concern in the world, rather than having the fear of the front wheel washing away from underneath you at any given moment.

Adding to this feeling of security is the extremely potent braking power.

While it has the traditional lever on the right bar to operate the front brake, both the left lever and additional foot pedal in the right-hand-side of the footwell anchor the brakes for all three wheels and is incredibly responsive.

We didn’t use the footbrake at all, to be honest, but grabbing a handful with your left mitt and the scooter comes to a standstill in an instant – and you don’t have to worry about the front wheel sliding from beneath you and leaving you in a heap in the road.

What are the running costs like?

In theory, the Tricity 300 returns a claimed 85.6mpg, depending on how aggressive you are with the throttle, so it takes quite a few miles for you to empty the 13-litre fuel tank. I was averaging around 70mpg, though predominantly riding through town.

Tax is just £44 a year, insurance will be substantially cheaper than car cover and consumables like the tyres and brakes last longer because the stresses put through them are shared across three locations rather than two.

The biggest stumbling block is the price, with an option-free Tricity 300 ringing in at a fairly steep £7,547. Put down a deposit of £1,574 and monthly payments on PCP finance fall to £89 over three years (and a final balloon payment of £3,780 if you want to keep it after the 36-month period).

Is it the ideal Covid commuter?

Even for someone who has never ridden a motorcycle before, the Tricity 300 will be a doddle to use – definitely a safer stepping stone than going from four wheels to two.

Unlike some bikes that will frighten newcomers with bundles of power and the possibility of it flinging you off at any moment, the Tricity instills confidence you can’t get with two wheels.

Throw into the mix that it has both a side stand and centre stand, hand-operated parking brake, keyless ignition and under-seat storage for two helmets – or a couple of rucksacks when you’re riding – and it has a modicum of the practicality you’d expect from a tiny city car. You also get a 12v-volt chargepoint on the inside of the fairing near your knee – though an USB would have been a better socket for 2020 life.

A winter pack option, which adds an apron, heated grips and knuckle visors to keep your hands toasty, is a recommended £280 addition if you are going to use it at this time of year.

The downside is the bulk – more so when you’re trying to move it around with the engine off. The standing assist function works well, but it still feels like you’re pushing a hulking shopping trolley around rather than a light motorcycle.

Commuters should be warned that you do need to take care when filtering. It feels wider than a skinny 300cc-comparable two-wheeler and the mirrors in particular – which are mounted just below the screen – are at the same height as most commercial vehicle wing mirrors, so can result in clangs with white van men.

But trundling past stationary traffic while you keep yourself isolated from the virus will fill you with a smugness that will make you forget about how cold it is commuting on a scooter in November time.

For getting to work safely, quickly and cheaply, there are few better choices than this.

Price: from £7,547

Engine: 292cc, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valves

Power: 28bhp

Top speed: 85mph

Fuel consumption: 85.6mpg

CO2 emissions: 77g/km

Kerb weight: 239kg

Fuel tank capacity: 13 litres

Length: 2,250mm

Width: 815mm

Height: 1,470mm

Seat height: 795mm

Wheelbase: 1,595mm