Brammo Go BLAMMO

And the other tire drops: Brammo, that electric motorcycle company that talked a big talk, now tanks big time.  After not even three full years of Empulse motorcycle sales, Brammo, Inc. now ceases to exist as an independent entity, having been bought out by Polaris Industries (makers of ATVs, snowmobiles, the Victory and Indian gasser motorcycle brands, etc.).  Whether they will exist at all is now Polaris’ play.  brmm

The first public clue was Brammo announcing an “end of season” clearance sale.  An end of season sale last August.  Personally, late August/early September is when my riding season is in its second wind, literally.  Anyway, Brammo slashed prices by about half on some bikes.  Then it was seen that dealers- such as they were- still had 2013 Brammo Empulses to get rid of.  They still had clearance Empulses into 2015.  The second public clue were the reports of little or no activity at Brammo headquarters/factory in Oregon.

My clue, however, came years ago, dealing with these Keystone Choppers.  In my experience, Brammo was chasing a phantom: the fickle tastes of a small segment of motorcyclists, itself a small segment of vehicle buyers in general.  Rather than start with a good technology base, then digging in with plans to grow out from there, Brammo tried to nail it with one shot.  They thought they had to have a multispeed transmission/clutch to replicate the “real motorcycle” experience.  Instead, contracting IET for trannys delayed production and sale, and made Empulses the worst of both worlds: the limited range of an electric, with the gear slop of a gasser.  Meanwhile gear losses net you even less range. Continue reading

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Rimac’s Real (well, mostly)

Rimac Automobili, the Croatian company that I mentioned, is one step closer to selling its supercar design.  Rimac has obtained ten million Euros (~12 million USD) towards selling its “C1” or “Concept_One” super-coupe.  Investors have contributed this much for a Series A financing round; the company claims it is expanding and developing.

rimaclogoOn the one hand, this looks pretty compelling.  The vehicle itself, with over 1,000 horsepower as currently designed, can embarrass many Ferraris; founder Mate Rimac claims its interior will have every appointment.  Mate Rimac got his start as an e-racer of his own conversions and homebuilts, so he’s not coming in cold.  He’s also selling components to other automakers, and the Greyp electric bike/moped, again gaining practical experience in real-word products and manufacturing.  This is in Eastern Europe mind you, with low wages and rents but surprising scientific and engineering talent.  Meanwhile, since the C1 car will go for a million apiece, at a low delivery rate, to those who can pay cash on the counter, financing the company behind it will be easier than in a more consumer-oriented, competitive, high-production rate market segment.

On the other hand though, ~$12 million is NOTHING in auto world.  It’s why I led off with “one step closer,” and not “already there.”  Rimac’s capitalization is around 70-80 million dollars; Tesla by comparison required oh… around half a billion to get going.  And that’s starting with the Tesla Roadster, which was built around the Lotus Elise, which was already converted to electric by other houses.  It took three more years to go from Roadster to the Model S, the company burning up money all the way.  While this one financing round makes Rimac more credible than it was before, that’s still not saying all that much.  Continue reading

Long-Term Mission?

mmlMission has announced their R and RS warranty:

  • 2 year/unlimited mileage “nose to tail” (can’t really say bumper to bumper, can we?)
  • Plus 6 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty

Let’s read between these lines.  Mission began as EV consultants, never selling to the public.  The (one?) rideable units were rolling ads for their expertise and tech portfolio.  Relatively recently, as highway vehicles go, they took the plunge, developing the R/RS for retail sale.

It now makes sense that they offer an “industry-defining” (their words) powertrain warranty, but modest vehicle coverage.  Mission had years to work on electric drives, and this one in particular, but is starting from scratch on production setups and processes, numerous suppliers, approvals, and… a dealer network.  Yeah, that little thing. Continue reading

Mud on the Leg(work)… ?

It’s Dec. 30.  BRD, an electric-motorcycle manufacturer, once claimed they’d have their RedShift bikes to sell in 2013.  On the way to being an actual electric-motorcycle seller, they’ve been quiet.  But recently they sent an update on their past ten (!!!) months:

By the end of 2012, our development prototypes had journalists saying things like “could be the best Lites-class MX bike on the market”… “a clear superiority” …Not a bad start, but not yet up to our standards.

Let’s see, how do we take this coffee?cat

1) At face value- beating all gasser MXers is hard
2) Not quite face value- the company is biding their time
3) Not at all- there’s an issue we don’t know about
4) Worse than not at all- BRD won’t make their own targets Continue reading