Our good friend Ted Dillard from The Electric Chronicles got an interesting email from Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher this past week, in which the Oregonian company stated that it will be pushing deliveries of the Brammo Empulse back yet another year to 2012, and then fairly bluntly hinted that the revamped Empulse would be fitted with the company’s newly licensed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET).
In his email to Dillard, Bramscher states that “Brammo teams and suppliers across the globe are working hard to deliver you a motorcycle of the level of quality Brammo riders have come to expect. We had a tough decision to make recently: Deliver the Empulse this riding season, or integrate our latest technology and deliver a superior bike in 2012. After much deliberation, we decided to be true to our values and build the best bike we can.”
“This week we will be announcing some new prototype models based on the new technology. These bikes have helped us thoroughly test and prove the technology that is being integrated into the Empulse,” continued Bramscher. This new technology surely must be the new IET gearbox, unless Brammo is keeping some secret feature on the Engage under tight lips.
The move isn’t surprising for a couple reasons. It’s widely speculated that Brammo hasn’t been able to get the 1,000 pre-orders needed to go into production with the Empulse, despite the fact no money has to be put down to pre-order the electric motorcycle. While the pre-order program has put a kibosh on Zero DS sales, our sources have told us the 1,000 pre-sale figure is the magic number for that project going forward (likely because of funding). Naturally with each passing day, the likelihood of Brammo reaching that goal diminishes, as interest in the current bike wanes as technology progresses forward.
Thus it makes logical sense that to keep interest piqued on the Brammo Empulse, a revision to the design was in order. The fact that a new powertrain is in the works for the Empulse is also unsurprising, as the Empulse motor has been problematic since its quasi-public debut before the Laguna Seca MotoGP round last year. Unable to participate in the FIM e-Power Championship round, an over-heated motor was widely speculated as the cause of the bike’s racing plans being scuttled.
The same motor issue arose recently while MotorcycleUSA’s Steve Atlas was at the helm, which doesn’t show a promising pace of development for 10 month’s time. It should be noted though that when we watched the Empulse RR lap around Thunderhill earlier this year, no issues seemingly arrived, though Brammo Director of Product Development Brian Wismann only did five to six lap stints during that testing day, which could factor into things (in fairness, it should be noted that this could also be due to maintaining a charge level that would allow for a full-day’s testing).
Whatever the case may be, the new IET technology would either replace the current Empulse drivetrain, or perhaps puts the motor in a more optimal rev zone. The news is additionally worrisome as it puts more credence to the vaporware reputation Brammo is building for itself. To the best of our knowledge, Brammo hasn’t even begun selling its Enertia Plus motorcycles in earnest, which with this week’s announcement brings a total of four out of five of the company’s announced model lines as unavailable for sale to the public. With few technical details coming out about the Engage and Encite, and both bikes debuting still in prototype form, it’s anyone’s guess as to when these bikes will be finalized and put into production.
Our Bothan Spies were hard at work today, even as we were finishing this article, as we get word that Brammo is currently testing with Steve Atlas today at Infineon Raceway. Reports state the bike has been doing short lap stints, and according to one Bothan “my bike makes 78 hp, and I could motor it on the straight. How’s that for a gas vs electric comparo?” Hat tip to MotoUSA’s Steve Atlas though, as our spy added “Atlas on the leathers. Kid could ride.”