It’s 2014, and 238 years for the US. For motorcycles, and technologic motorcycles at that, might as well be Year Zero. On hand already, we have:
And on tap, supposedly this year :
This is besides later, more-tentative motorcycles from Yamaha, Energica, Harley-Davidson, KTM, and Voxan, possibly Mugen/Honda, Saroléa, and Tacita. Plus scooters. So, one’s a freak, two’s a coincidence, three’s odd, and four’s a fad, right? Then seven, ten, or more must be a movement. “There is that sense of being at the beginning of something new, and part of our future… It’s coming,” says American Motorcyclist Association chair Maggie McNally-Bradshaw. A new way of working has reinvigorated a stale field, perhaps most importantly by enabling new entrants. Young blood will invite even more young blood.
Note that the time progression of Isle Of Man TT gassers is largely stagnant- there’s just no more to give, except a percent here, half a percent there. Meanwhile, the yearly electric results are shooting up steadily. The same is true at Pikes Peak- in just a few years of competing, both 2-wheel and 4-wheel EVs have approached or passed parity with fossil-burners.
Of course, I’ll be the first to admit this is a hard road we’re heading along. Doesn’t mean we don’t take the ride. I’ve posted about Brammo promising what they couldn’t deliver, as well as KTM, Lightning, and Agility too. BRD and Mission have apparently learned not to promise anything substantial at all.
And yet, we can’t really lose in the greater scheme of things. What if Yamaha fails, but Tacita succeeds? We win. What if Mission fails, but Saroléa succeeds? We still win. The appeal of a new drive opening the doors of industry is so strong, one of the competitors will make it through alive. These competitors aren’t really competing with each other, as Tesla just admitted. The enemy is inertia, and complacence, and incuriosity. Any business above may fail, but it will be subsumed into the greater industry. Its people and knowhow and assets and experiences will churn back. Chevy Volt engineers begat the BMW i3, just as a Tesla manger fortified BRD, and Mission’s work in electric cars enabled Harley… just as development in laptops enabled Tesla in the first place. As in Silicon Valley’s computing firms, we eat our dead… so they arguably don’t stay dead.
The biggest knowhow and experience is what not to do. This industry is not repeating the mistakes of the US “Big Three”- GM, Ford, and Chrysler. (Which actually used to be the Big Four, with AMC, before consolidating.) This industry is not sitting on current profits and designs and customer bases. For example, Harley (among others) is going for Asia; Zero and BRD (at a minimum) are actively pursuing Latin America. Sitting on things is how you get left in the dust.