Electric Motorcycle Break-Even Calculator

08/02/2010 @ 7:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

One of the big talking points for electric motorcycles is the subject of price/performance parity, i.e. when electric motorcycles will provide similar performance figures as internal combustion engines (ICE), for the same price. Performance can mean more than just raw power of course, with the cost of a motorcycle over its lifetime also being an important measure.

Considering that ICE motorcycles require more up-keep…and gasoline, the variable costs can stack up over time; whereas electric motorcycles require very little in additional costs, but are more money up-front (fixed costs). If that sounds like a lot of economics and math, it’s ok because a blogger by the name of Empulse Buyer has put together a handy break-even calculator that shows the total cost of owning electric and ICE motorcycles.

One of the issues that has been poorly addressed in the electric world is the real-world cost of owning a motorcycle over its lifetime. While would-be electric motorcycle buyers have suffered from the sticker shock associated from these new machines, one of the points that hasn’t been driven home well enough is the fact that electric buyers don’t have the recurring costs that normal motorcyclists incur.

This fact has lead some manufacturers to consider leasing batteries instead of selling them outright in order to reduce costs, and to help customers upgrade to new technology as it rolls out (EV battery tech is rapidly evolving after all).

However, one thing that is missing from this calculator is the fact that your purchasing the bulk of your energy expenditure in advance (i.e. the batteries), while buying your gasoline as you need it. To truly reflect the cost associated with owning electrics, a net present value calculation should be added into the equation. Also one should factor battery replacement costs, and bear in mind the typical amount of time an owner keeps a motorcycle, since buying an electric motorcycle has both long-term and short-term owner concerns that can affect the true break-even point.

Still the calculator is a very neat and easy to understand tool that allows motorcyclists to get a better picture of their purchase decision. If you’re considering an electric motorcycle, be sure to check it out and input your own cost structures.

Source: Empulse Buyer via The Electric Chronicles

  • Keith

    That’s nice but he didn’t figure in the cost of new batteries ever 5 years or so. Those batteries don’t last as long as people imagine the will. I can’t imagine servicing any of my motorcycles costing $550 either…maybe a set of shims every 50,000 miles and a chain set every 10 to 20k miles. For that matter let’s see that electric bike recharge as quickly as you can fuel up an ICE propeled motorcycle. 8^) They need to be able to charge in 15min or less. Why? Becuase many of us would rather ride all day that ride 100miles and wait hours before riding another 100 miles.

    BUT don’t let that seem negativity I LOVE the idea.

  • Ecosse

    good observations keith.

    something the calculator fails to take into consideration is the percentage of people who will actually own any bike (ice or not) for its lifetime.

    we all know many bikes are sold only a few years, sometimes less, after original purchase either to trade up or to make room for the usual reasons, i.e a new family, debt, lack of time to enjoy, etc…

    by the time an e-bike begins to pay off could be after it’s sold.

    having said that i would consider owning an e-bike… in addition to my ice machine. ; )

  • Gildas

    Regarding the durability of the cells… I think the lifespan will be better than anticipated AND similar to the “wear” parts of a normal ICE engine (segments, cylinder lining, clutch etc)… And costing as much to repair.

    This is based on the evolution of the AA cells used to power flashes.

    Les than 5 years ago these were 500/800 mAh, would lose charge and be heading for the tip after less than 50 recharges.
    Now you get 2700 to 3000 mAh and at least a 1000 recharges… Some brands are better (Sanyo) than others (Energiser) and that can make or ruin the experience.

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  • Brammo says the batteries should last at least 2,000 full recharge cycles and/or 75-80,000 miles.

  • The numbers may not work for everyone, im not implying that they do. That said, the ROI break-even point is typically far less than even half of the expected battery life. Add in state incentives for some of us… say California’s 1500.00 and the break-even point on an Empulse 6.0 vs a Kawasaki 650R is 4438 miles. Colorado residents (like myself) can get an Empulse 10.0 for less than the Kawasaki 650R.

    Keep in mind too that gas wont stay < $3/gal forever. Folks in Europe pay upwards of 8 dollars a us gallon. Cut the break-even point in half for them.

    As far as service costs go, 550.00 / 15k miles seems conservative to me. But this is coming from a guy who has owned a Ducati for the last 4 years.

  • MTGR

    Another factor everyone seems to gloss over is the increase in your electric supplier costs.

    I know summer bills in Texas, with all the AC, are remarkably higher. And I recall California’s advisory announcements, spending millions just to warn people to turn on and off their X-Mas lights at specific times to avoid overloading the available power supply and causing rolling blackouts.

    You don’t honestly believe everyone’s electric bills are going to stay the same once more and more people start plugging in a bike (and/or car or two) every night? If nothing else there will be the built-in excuse of needed funds to expand the supply infrastructure to meet increased demand, which is tax speak for “we will find a way to charge you more either up front or in hidden ways.”

    I think e-bikes could be a cool addition to the bike market but add electricity costs and taxes to the battery replacement/recycle/lease/safe disposal/ safe handling/etc. fees and I doubt the overall savings are going to be as dramatic as everyone is being lead to believe, either for the individual owner or the environment as a whole.

  • The added amount of electric bills at the Brammofan house was a real eye-opener. I used a Kill-a-Watt meter and determined that my daily commute was costing me a whopping 25 to 30 CENTS! I’ve spent almost $4.00 in electricity on “fuel” for my Enertia since I began riding it in the middle of June. Thank goodness for Ramen noodles.

  • @MTGR
    Regarding replacement battery cost:

    Those who intend to run these BEV batteries to EOL will benefit the most from these numbers and probably offset the cost to replace them at that point.

    Regarding electric utility costs. Think about what you are saying. If electric costs increase drastically, lets say by twice as much the impact is negligible. Just punch it into the calculator if you want proof. By that same token, the calculator also takes into account that prices stay the same at the pump. Double the costs of gas and see what happens to TCO. You don’t honestly think that prices at the pump are going to stay the same, do you?

    The more utilities charge for electricity, the more solar panels make economical sense. People will always have that option. Drilling for crude and building a refinery in your backyard is a little less cost effective.

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  • Kevin White

    That’s interesting, and I like math, but the reason I’m interested in electric motorcycles is for all the other aspects: torque, single gear/no shifting, instant on, no engine maintenance, no trips to fuel up, quiet operation, unique design, and light weight.