American motorcycle makers Victory Motorcycles will compete in this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with an electric motorcycle, the Victory Empulse RR -a race-prepared version of the street-legal Empulse TT.
With an image built to mirror the “big, loud and proud” motorcycles of Harley Davidson, Victory is now jumping on the electric bandwagon, as motorcycle manufacturers are beginning to see the payoff from investing in electric.
“Victory Racing serves as an international R&D development program and test bed for future products, and since Pikes Peak is arguably the most challenging race in America –it’s exactly where we need to be,” says Alex Hultgren, Director of Marketing for Victory Motorcycles.
Tagged as the Race to the Clouds, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb travels 19.99 km to the summit of Pikes Peak Mountain in Colorado, U.S., featuring 156 turns and climbing a dizzying 1,440 metres. Drivers have been known to pass out and combustion engines to falter in the high altitude and thin air, hence the recent success of electric vehicles on the course. Last year, an electric car won in all race classes and in 2013 the all-electric Lightning LS-218 set the record time of 10 minutes 0.69 seconds for its class Empulse RR rider Don Canet says he’s “very optimistic” about their chances with the electric bike. “Pikes Peak is an ideal venue for an electric powered bike to showcase its performance potential,” he says.
Electric car manufacturer Tesla is also set to race for the first time at this year’s Pikes Peak, with race car driver and entrepreneur Blake Fuller behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S and battery from Fuller’s own Go Puck battery technology company. “Being the first to enter the Model S into competition poses many unique challenges from advanced electronics to unique vehicle dynamics,” says Fuller. “At each stage of the preparation, we are discovering new possibilities and areas for innovation in which we endeavor to help bring to fruition.”
The electric motorcycle trend is taking off with specialist companies like Zero motorcycles in California, Sora motorcycles by Lito Green Motion based in Quebec and Daymak in Toronto.
The Government of Ontario’s new climate change action plan has set targets for electric vehicles of five per cent of vehicle sales by 2020 and 12 per cent by 2025, with the cap raised for electric vehicle incentive rebates upped to $10,000 this past February.
Germany has recently gone all-in with electrics, earmarking 600 million euros (882 million dollars) for incentives for electric vehicle buyers, projecting that the move will put between 300,000 and 500,000 new electric vehicles on the road.
The British government has announced that it is teaming up with vacuum cleaner company, Dyson, to produce a line of electric vehicles, adding to the growing group of non-traditional automotive companies such as Tesla producing electric vehicles. The U.K. government will support Dyson to the tune of $250-million USD for the development of a battery-electric vehicle at the company’s headquarters in Wiltshire, U.K.