Monday, February 18, 2008

Electric Motorcycles

Vietnam is overrun with scooters. This makes a lot of sense since they are much cheaper than cars and you can get around the Saigon traffic much more effectively in a motorbike than you can in a car. The drawbacks to motorbikes are numerous of course. Mainly they are dangerous, loud, and smelly. As for the dangerous part, in Saigon the traffic rarely moves at more than 20 mph so they aren't that dangerous, especially now that Vietnam has a helmet law. My main complaint about motorbike travel in Saigon is the pollution. You can just feel the carcinogens coursing through your body whenever you're stuck in a crowd of these things during rush hour. In Vietnam, the trucks and buses are much worse polluters per vehicle, but the shear volume of motorbikes makes up for it is spades.

In the US, Tesla Motors has started shipping very cool all electric sports cars. I was thinking that someone should do the same for the motorbike industry, especially in Vietnam. If Tesla did a motorbike, what would it look like? It would have to be very cool, electric, and sporty. I started doing some research and ran across three companies that are essentially the Tesla Motors of the motorcycle space. Vectrix is focused on scooters. This is more like what you would see on the streets in Vietnam. Brammo (Enertia Bike) and Zero Motorcycles are more like motorcycles than scooters. Zero seems to be a dirt bike, while Inertia more of a street legal bike. They all look very cool. I might just have to try them all out and see if I can start importing them to Vietnam.


Enertia Bike:

Zero Motorcycles:

I should mention, Vietnam does have a thriving electric bicycle industry. The rules of the road here exclude students from driving motorbikes. I'm not sure if the law actually says students or it's limited by age. For some reason, it is always described to me as students. I think student in this context means a pre-university student, but I could be wrong.