By DEXTER FORD October 11, 2012
JUST when we’ve accepted that we won’t be blasting to Starbucks on jetpacks any time soon, another icon of techno-fantasy has raised its emission-free, pennies-per-mile head: electric motorcycles.
Despite a barrage of ambitious prototypes, like the metal-and-glass-enclosed Lit Motors C-1, promoted in YouTube test-ride videos and breathless news releases, electric motorcycles seem to be around the corner but out of reach.
If blog buzz and “Buy Now” Web site buttons translated into units sold, we’d be talking about a major growth industry here. But even with ice caps melting and gasoline around $4 a gallon, the number of electric motorcycles sold is barely detectable.
The appeal of an electric motorcycle is obvious. It would deliver its power silently and instantly, without the need for oil, fire, smoke, noise, clutch or gearbox. Each fill-up would cost just a dollar. It might even talk to your iPhone, though it’s hard to imagine what kind of a useful conversation the two might have. An electric bike might someday be the next big thing, in a “what would Steve Jobs have ridden” sort of way.
But, as many would-be electric motorcycle makers have discovered, making a salable and profitable electric bike is much harder than it looks.
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