Monday, April 27, 2009

All Electric Zero Motorcycle. An Energy Savings?

Serious kudos go out the folks at Zero Motorcycles in California. This motorcycle, pictured on the left, is a Zero S. Here are a few specifications from the website:

  • Top Speed: 60MPH (96.6 kph)
  • Peak Horsepower: 31
  • Torque: 62.5 ft-lbs (84.6 Nm)
  • Range: About 60 Miles (97km)
  • Full Recharge Time: About 4 hours
  • Transmission: Clutchless Single Speed
  • Final Drive: Chain
  • Seat Height: 35.5 inches (90.2cm)
  • Total Weight With Powerpack: 225 pounds (102.1 kg)
OK, it is an interesting entry into the world of alternate fuel vehicles.

A friend e-mailed a link to this CNN Money video. OK, so it is built in the USA. Good. It is simple to operate. Maybe good. A trip from Los Angeles to New York would only cost about $30 in electricity. What????

That is indeed what the fellow in the video said. $30. Well, a novice long distance rider myself, I know there are many more costs than energy. Two big expenses would be lodging and food.

So, comparing the total cost of a trip from Los Angeles to New York; one on the Zero S and another on a conventional motorcycle should be interesting. Which one really costs less?

I started with some further assumptions and numbers:
  • Miles from LA to NY: 2,790 miles (per Google maps)
  • Average Daily Travel Time: 10 hours, including refueling breaks
  • Fuel Economy of an average motorcycle: 50 MPG
  • Average Gas Cost per gallon: $2.25
  • Fuel Cost for the Zero: $30 for entire trip (from the video)
  • Motel Cost per Night: $45
  • Food per Day: $30
  • Ideal Weather with no traffic or road condition delays. Purely optimal riding.
OK, let's start with the Zero. It can travel 60 miles in one hour in one charge (between fuelings). Add a four hour charge time and a person can travel 60 miles in five hours. Calculated out, that is 8.3 hours per 100 miles.

A typical motorcycle can travel 150 miles at 65 miles per hour which yields about 2.3 hours travel time between fuelings. Add .5 hours fueling time and a person can travel 150 miles in 2.8 hours. Calculated out, that is 1.87 hours per 100 miles.

So, how many miles can be traveled per day? On the Zero, it is about 120 miles. On a conventional motorcycle, it is about 530.

Given these numbers, how many days would it take to travel from LA to NY? On the Zero, it would take about 23 days. On a conventional motorcycle, only a little more than five.

Anyone see an issue here?

Fuel cost for the Zero would be about $30 for the entire trip. It may be a lot less if the rider charged the Zero at the hotel/motel where they are staying. Given the assumptions above, a conventional motorcycle would require about $125.50 for gas.

Now, add in the lodging and other necessities like food. Given the number of days in transit, a trip by the Zero would cost about $1,750. By the conventional motorcycle? How about $500.50!

The Zero may be an interesting little bike, maybe useful for short distance commuters who do not ride on highways, but with a price tag of $9,950, it is likely only the more affluent commuters would buy one.

Either way, it is indeed an interesting looking ride and a good start. Once the top speed and range is increased, and charge time decreased, this scoot may be more interesting.

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