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Friday Five: Interview with Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher

The Electric Generation,

Craig_Brammo_photoWhen you hear the words ‘electric vehicle’, it’s likely that you automatically think of an electric car; you picture a model you’re familiar with, maybe even one you’ve driven. But it’s our duty, and our pleasure, to remind you that the use of electricity as a fuel extends beyond a few select makes and models. More specifically all-electric motorcycles are an exciting and practical segment of EVs as well.

As some of you know, Ashland, Oregon-based Brammo is a pioneer on the path of two-wheeled EVs. The electric powersports company designs award-winning motorcycles, including the Brammo Enertia and the Empulse R, the fastest production electric motorcycle. And since we like to get inside the minds that power the EV movement, this week’s Friday Five takes your questions straight to Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher.

Below is a list of questions from our community about how Brammo is driving the electric movement, two wheels at a time.

1. “Is there a way to swap your battery for a fresh one and leave the other to charge til you return?” – April Kohrt

  •  There is a way to swap batteries, and we’ve been looking at this specifically for smaller vehicles, because even “light” batteries are heavy. It’s obviously an issue in markets where there is minimal street level charging or public charging infrastructure such as India; So in certain markets we want to enable our riders to commute to work and when they get home take out the battery to charge up.

2. “With the successes of the Enertia, Enertia Plus, and now the Empulse R and the Empulse, what’s next for Brammo?” – Harry Mallin

  • Choosing what comes next is based both on customer demand and technology innovation. In the fullness of time we will build a range of motorcycle models. A touring bike that goes cross-country, for example, will be one of the last models to come to market simply because it presents the biggest challenge in terms of batteries. But without spoiling any upcoming releases, I can say that people will be very excited about the products we have in development.

3. “What is Brammo doing to court Government and institutional customers, from municipal police and park services, to military and large facility fleets. Does Brammo plan to market directly do they plan on utilizing the dealer network?” -Sean Seamon

  •  This is a great question, because while EVs sometimes cost more upfront, the total cost of ownership is dramatically less and both private and government fleets tend to look at the full life cost of a vehicle. We have a dedicated fleet sales team and this activity is supported by our dealer network in the USA, Europe and Hong Kong.  Here in Ashland, the Police Department have been testing the Enertia Plus LE and they are now riding the Empulse LE. Meanwhile, we have a diverse range of fleet customers performing testing and evaluation of the motorcycles.

4. “When will we see the first Empulse on the road in Europe, more specific in Amsterdam?” – Mico Naddeo

  • Not soon enough, in my opinion! One of the challenges is building enough motorcycles to satisfy demand in N America before we launch in the European Union which involves getting the motorcycles homologated for Europe. The good news is that the 2014 model year Empulse R will go directly to EU homologation, so our plan is to have the Empulse on sale in Europe next year.

5. “How about a production model of the Empulse RR? Is Brammo working with Polaris on an ATV like the one Brian W. teased last year?” – Jeremy Dory

  • Many of the innovations and developments that come from our racing program find their way into our production vehicles, that’s one of the main benefits of racing. For example, our racing drive train is currently making its way to production, so you will see that in the near future. Additionally, we do enjoy a great relationship with Polaris and we are working closely on a number of joint projects some of which will make it to market – Stay tuned!

And a few bonus questions!

“Why do you waste so much on racing bikes? Why not spend some of that developing different bikes to appeal to different riders?” – Russell Frost

  • Another great question! It’s easy to think of racing as just cool and fun but it’s much more than that.  Racing puts Brammo in competition with other EV companies and to win a race you have to be the best.  Also racing imposes  a series of hard dates, deadlines where you have to be at the track and ready to race, there is no slipping the date. All of this accelerates our innovation and development.  Racing is also a great way to promote our product excellence – when we race at Laguna Seca 80,000 motorcyclists get to see our latest and greatest technology in action. Ultimately, taking engineers onto the race track unleashes out-of-the-box thinking and does a world of good for the company, like strengthening teams and improving the innovation loop. To that end, we will never stop racing or winning.  Being the reigning National and World Champions says it all.

 When I drive a Brammo electric motorcycle, I feel _______.

  • I feel two things, really: The first is guilt-free; I could ride a Brammo around all day and not feel guilty about consuming finite resources because it is so efficient. The other thing is a sense of effortless propulsion. It feels a lot like standing on foot pegs with your arms out, or flying in a glider. There is an almost-flying exhilaration, especially because there is no noise or vibration, so you just feel the gravity force and the wind.

Anything You Want to Include?

  • People often ask if the experience is as fun as driving a gas-powered bike and my response is that if people test ride an Empulse, they will undoubtedly be excited. I can safely say that it’s  more fun than a gas bike because of the high torque and the six speed gear box with incredible balance  and handling and very smooth vibration free power.

Thanks for joining us for another edition of Friday Five. If you want to contribute to the conversation each week, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Until next time!

Photo courtesy of : Craig Bramscher 

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