The world is getting greener everyday, or so it seems. You can hardly pick up a magazine, tablet or newspaper without reading about some new legislation, taxes or technologies that are pushing for a more environmentally friendly world. For instance, just a few weeks ago luxury British car manufacturer, Jaguar, announced that it will only make electric cars from 2025 onwards.
This enthusiasm for green battery power has also segued into the two-wheeled vehicle market with more and more motorcycles being fitted with electric and not traditional internal combustion engines.
There are some compelling reasons to buy an electric motorcycle in Singapore. First, the country is small and distances usually driven are short.
Unless you’re a delivery driver, your daily commute is unlikely to rack up more than 100km of mileage, a distance that any electric motorcycle can easily handle.
Another reason that a battery-powered motorbike makes sense is that Singapore has some of the world’s most reliable power. Being a small country the infrastructure for charging stations is much easier to create than for a large country.
What’s more, output from power stations here is very stable and plentiful.
Still another good incentive to go electric is that electric motors are huge torque generators. That rotational force makes acceleration wicked fast on cars and motorcycles, which makes for an exhilarating ride.
And when you consider that electric motorcycles don’t need a heavy and hot piston engine with a noisy, polluting exhaust it all starts to make sense.
One such electric motorcycle to make it to market is the Johammer J1. The bike actually comes in two versions: the J1.150 and the J1.200.
The numbers denote the range of the bikes in kilometres; with the J1.150 having a slightly smaller battery than its 200 counterpart. Either bike is perfect for city driving and yet has plenty of power to still make it a fun drive.
Other than it being run by an electric motor, it’s no question that the J1’s unusual body design is what makes this bike so special. Since the J1 doesn’t have the usual carburetors, motor, exhaust and gas tanks, it allowed Johammer to rethink motorcycle design from scratch.
The modernistic design is one you will either love or hate. Either way, it is a radical design departure from the norm.
The J1 looks like a cross between a lizard and a fish, with the raised mirrors as antennae and the asymmetrical headlights looking like eyes. The curvy shape of the body panelling looks almost bug-like by design.
Again, it’s certainly not a design for everyone, but if you’re in the camp that likes a design like this, you’ll have plenty of company. And if you want to turn heads the J1 will oblige—easily.
The J1 was designed and is, oddly enough, manufactured in Austria. The J1 series motorcycles are powered by DC-excited synchronous motors with single-stage transmission, both submerged in sealed oil baths.
As a result, no maintenance is required. The bike has a top speed (set by the manufacturer) of 120kph with nearly instantaneous acceleration.
The bike’s frame is constructed out of lightweight aluminum alloy. The bikes are available in five colour schemes, with prices starting at € 22.900 (~S$30,000).
Since Johammer doesn’t have a Singapore agent at this time, you’d need to import the bike, which would incur additional fees and taxes.
Another company that happens to be Singapore based, Scorpio Electric, has plans to cash in on electrified two-wheelers, too. They are creating high-performance electric motorcycles that are perfect for use in Asia’s cities.
Scorpio Electric has raised US$6.3 million in funding to develop and produce their latest zero-emission, fully electric motorcycles.
In 2018, Scorpio Electric received S$2.0 million in seed funding from their parent company, EuroSports Global Limited, which holds the Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo dealership franchises. Once production starts, Scorpio Electric will have immediate access to the Southeast Asian market, which represents a market population of 200 million motorcycles and annual sales of 15 million motorcycles.
Scorpio Electric also intends to differentiate themselves by making their motorcycles ‘smart’ with the use of artificial intelligence and data analytics, allowing them to be even more energy efficient.
At the moment the company is developing numerous prototypes and pre-production builds. Additionally, the company will invest in the completion of their headquarters and assembly plant, which includes developing the equipment, parts moulds, tooling, and IT systems, etc.
The 3,600sqm assembly plant at Teban Gardens is expected to produce up to 8,000 electric motorcycles annually.
Getting There …
Singapore has been slow to ride the bike of innovation when it comes to electric motorcycles. In fact, as of last year, there were only two electric motorcycles registered in the Republic.
The main reason for this was government regulation. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had some stringent guidelines when it came to electric vehicles.
In the past the LTA limited the size of electric motors that could be used to power a motorcycle and the vehicle’s speed. That policy was outdated.
From April last year, high-powered electric motorcycles above 10Kw may be used on Singapore’s roads – in line with efforts to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles in the country.
Former Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr. Janil Puthucheary, who announced this move, revealed that this was in line with efforts to update regulations to keep pace with technology. “Motorcyclists can then now do their part for the environment by choosing an electric model,” said Dr. Puthucheary.
This comes after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during his 2020 Budget speech a number of measures to spur electric vehicle (EV) adoption, as well as plans to phase out the use of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2040.
The road tax structure for electric motorcycles will be aligned with that of conventional ICE motorcycles, with their power ratings pegged to those of ICE equivalents. “This will enhance parity in the treatment of ICE and electric vehicles, until we are ready to introduce a distance-based tax,” said the LTA.
Johammer and Scorpio are just two manufacturers that have moved to electrifying two-wheeled travel but there are many other players. All major motorcycle manufacturers from Harley Davidson to BMW are starting to offer battery powered motorcycles in their offerings.
Who knows, one day these manufacturers may follow Jaguar and only offer battery powered vehicles. Times are indeed changing.