They might not be for everyone, but did you know that you can buy an electric motorcycle, and it’s currently the cheapest form of electric vehicle available?
As of March 2023, 6,561 electric motorcycles and scooters were registered in Australia, a 31% increase on the previous year. Approximately 95% are scooters and the remainder are a combination of high-performance and off-road electric motorcycles. There are no less than thirty four models riders can choose from.
If you are willing to don a helmet, you can go all-electric from around $4,000 in Australia for an entry level machine, making it a cool way to save money and have fun. And of course, if you want something sportier, there is also a small range of blisteringly fast performance bikes dripping with high tech - if you’re happy to spend around $45,000.
Fascinatingly, Australia even has its own solar-powered scooter factory, producing 100% electric scooters and commuter bikes in Sydney. Founded by female tech entrepreneur Michelle Nazarri, Fonz Moto claims to have over six million on-road electrified kilometers under their belts and sells hundreds of electric bikes each year. Melbourne company Savic motorcycles even builds retro style electric sports bikes if you need a bit more panache.
There are custom shops, an increasing number of new models being imported, and you can even get a Harley Davidson made, all-electric motorcycle - just be ready to adjust your expectations about noise at the door.
Sydney-sider Nigel Morris is a self confessed electric motorcycle fan, and recently upgraded to his third bike in the last ten years. He’s covered around 70,000 kilometers over that time and estimates he's saved around $20,000 in fuel and maintenance costs alone.
“The seamless power delivery and regenerative braking are what got me hooked. It's just a joy to ride” he said. “I can slow charge it anywhere there's a power point, fast charge at thousands of superchargers and automatically soak up my excess solar power at home using an app.” In the rare cases where he does buy power to “refuel”, it costs less than five dollars to fill up.
Morris is also slightly unique in being a renter and needing to negotiate with his landlords to enable his solar-electric-motorcycle lifestyle, but is sanguine about the challenges. “I've been lucky and convinced two longer term landlords to allow me to add solar, batteries and basic charging facilities at my own expense, which paid for themselves long before my lease was up. I recently moved and I’m in the process of doing it again. It's challenging but possible”
This time, Morris is also proposing to replace an inefficient electric hot water heater for a heat pump, which is now much easier thanks to rebates in New South Wales. His calculations show that a heat pump will not only add value and depreciation for the landlord, but his share of the investment will pay for itself in under one year making it a no-brainer even for a tenant on a shorter-term lease.
Electric two wheelers are undoubtedly a bit of a niche, but have some very real advantages.
They consume around a third of the energy of an electric car and can be charged anywhere. They're super compact, virtually silent, have no heat, vibration or smell to worry about and they are the cheapest electric road transport you can buy today.