The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has taken it upon itself to establish a new standard on how to gauge the range of electric motorcycles. Since their entry into the market, we’ve seen some interesting performance claims from electric motorcycle manufacturers — some more misleading than others. Doing a little self-policing, the MIC has stepped in and established a universal standard that will attempt to quantify the real-world range of electric two-wheelers.
This news is important for two reasons, with the first being the obvious need of some sort of apples-to-apples comparison between the electric motorcycle brands, and the MIC’s desire to intervene on the nonsense occurring in this space before things get really out of hand.
The other major takeaway from this news is perhaps more subtle, as the MIC’s interest in regulating electrics is incredibly telling of what’s coming down the pipe from the major OEMs. A group comprised of executives from the largest US motorcycle brands, one has to wonder why this organization would be interested in regulating this budding segment in the motorcycle industry, that is unless it was setting the groundwork for OEM involvement in the E2V space…and boom goes the dynamite.
The MIC’s City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles standard doesn’t come right out and say it, but clearly sets two different measurements for electric motorcycles and electric scooters. Based off the the Urban All-Electric Range Test used for electric cars under California and federal regulations (notice the name parody going on here), an electric two-wheeled vehicle would start with a fully-charged battery, and then have its range measured using the distance that can be traveled before the E2V is no longer able to keep up with a specified speed-time profile.
While the test sounds simple enough, the criteria for each segment is a bit confusing, and while a debate can be made about the relevancy of these values, the key point is that it would be applied universally, and aid in consumer comparison between models. For electric scooters, the test is conducted with a top speed of 36.5 mph and an average speed of 17.7 mph, and only applies to vehicles with a top speed under 56.7 mph, but not one below 20 mph (presumably keeping out electric mopeds from this test). Conversely the protocol for electric motorcycles sets a top speed of 56.7 mph, and average speed at 19.6 mph.
Developed with input from Brammo, Quantya, and Zero Motorcycles, the MIC anticipates that all electric motorcycle manufacturers will adopt the range estimation protocol, and is even hopeful that Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) will adopt it in its standards. ”It’s vital for electric motorcycle manufacturers to have standards that we can agree on and that customers will find useful,” said Scot Harden, V.P. of Global Marketing for Zero Motorcycles. “We appreciate the much-needed efforts of the MIC, and everyone connected with the Electric Vehicle Task Force, as more and more electric motorcycles emerge on the market.”
Range standards like this are the first step in bringing some order to the electric motorcycle space, but standards on power figures also need to be set in-place, as values between nominal and consistent power outputs vary widely, especially by various designs. One such example is the commonly-used Agni 95 motor, which is often quoted as having a 100hp output, but in practical applications can only withstand extended 50hp loads before failure. This self-policing by the MIC is seemingly one of the first proactive measures the organization has undertaken in a while, and perhaps one of the best in shaping and guiding motorcycling down a more responsible and credible path.
It hasn’t been made apparent whether current electric motorcycle manufacturers like Brammo, Quantya, and Zero have had to update their range claims because of this new standard, but it does seem telling that the space, once dominated by garage hobbyists, is becoming more tightly controlled by larger players. The MIC’s involvement surely comes an indication that not only are OEMs getting ready to enter the space (KTM is close to releasing its electric dirt bike, and Honda is rumored to be racing in the Isle of Man TT’s TT Zero event this year). It shall be interesting to see what happens when the 800 lbs gorillas of the industry enter the electric space.
The entry of OEMs with electric or hybrid powertrains would not only add legitimacy to the space, but would be a maturation of this fledgling part of the industry. It also goes without saying that the R&D heavy brands would likely boost the rate of development in electrics, bringing practical ICE parity to electrics in a more rapid fashion. Stay tuned electric fans, this bodes well.
The entire text of the MIC’s new City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles is available here (http://www.mic.org/downloads/MIC_EVCityRidingRangeTestProcedure_Rev042811.pdf)
Source: Motorcycle Industry Council