Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scooter Resource -- Zero's come to town

Choked up about urban smog?

Emission-free electric scooters are growing in popularity as city dwellers look for ways to boot around town, but for people who crave performance and speed, they're seen as a wimpy way to travel.

If you're one of them, Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Zero Motorcycles has you in its sights. The company visited Toronto yesterday to launch its Zero S battery-powered motorcycle into the Canadian market, giving urban commuters another way of going electric.

The Zero S has an aircraft-grade alloy frame and weighs a scant 102 kilograms.

It can drive up to 97 kilometres on a single charge and is capable of reaching 100 kilometres per hour.

A four-kilowatt, 31-horsepower lithium-ion battery pack allows it to go from zero to 100 km/h in less than four seconds.

"Our goal from the beginning was to engineer a high-performance electric urban street motorcycle that would change the face of the industry," said Neal Saiki, founder of Zero Motorcycles.

Toronto Star staff had a chance to ride the vehicle, which also comes in a lighter, lower-cost off-road model called the Zero X. The motorcycle has no gears and incredible torque, and aside from wheel and chain noise is essentially silent. "I've driven this thing flat out for 50 minutes on a single charge," said John Lloyd, vice-president of worldwide Zero sales.

He said the battery pack lasts an average of five to six years, potentially longer if use is limited to summer seasons.

A full battery recharge
takes less than four hours in a standard electrical outlet.

Lloyd said the company is in the process of getting regulatory approval in Canada and establishing a distribution network in Toronto and other markets. It's also taking online orders for the Zero S and plans to begin shipping into Canada within the next 60 days.

It will sell for $9,950 (U.S.), excluding shipping costs, and Canadian pricing is expected shortly.

Based on Ontario electricity prices, it will cost less than $1 per charge and less than 1 cent per kilometre drive.

A replacement battery costs $3,000 (U.S.) but that price is expected to drop by the time a new pack needed, said Lloyd, who will be demonstrating the motorcycle today at the Green Living Show at Exhibition Place..

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