History of electric motorcycle and scooter
1895 to 1950
Patent drawing for an "Electric Bicycle" (1895)
The early history of electric motorcycles is somewhat unclear. On 19 September 1895, a patent application for an "electrical bicycle" was filed by Ogden Bolton Jr. of Canton Ohio. On 8 November of the same year, another patent application for an "electric bicycle" was filed by Hosea W. Libbey of Boston.
At the Stanley Cycle Show in 1896 in London, England, bicycle manufacturer Humber exhibited an electric tandem bicycle. Powered by a bank of storage batteries, the motor was placed in front of the rear wheel. Speed control was by a resistance placed across the handlebars. This electric bicycle was mainly intended for racetrack use.
The October 1911 issue of Popular Mechanics mentioned the introduction of an electric motorcycle. It claimed to have a range of 75 miles (121 km) to 100 miles (160 km) per charge. The motorcycle had a three-speed controller, with speeds of 4 miles (6.4 km), 15 miles (24 km) and 35 miles (56 km) per hour.
In 1919, Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies made a prototype electric motorcycle in which the batteries were fitted under the seat of the sidecar. Even though the vehicle was registered for road use, it never went past the trial stage.
In 1936, the Limelette brothers founded an electric motorcycle company called Socovel (Société pour l’étude et la Construction de Vehicules Electriques or Company for research and manufacture of electric vehicles) in Brussels. They continued production during the German occupation with their permission. Due to fuel rationing, they found some degree of success. But after the war, they switched to conventional models. The electric models remained available until 1948.
During the World War II, compelled by fuel rationing in the United States, Merle Williams of Long Beach, California invented a two-wheeled electric motorcycle that towed a single wheeled trailer. Due to the popularity of the vehicle, Williams started making more such vehicles in his garage. In 1946, it led to the formation of the Marketeer Company (current-day ParCar Corp.).
1950 to 1980
In 1967, Karl Kordesch, working for Union Carbide, made a fuel cell/Nickel–cadmium battery hybrid electric motorcycle. It was later replaced with a hydrazine fuel cell, giving it a range of 200 miles (320 km) per gallon and a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).
In the same year, a prototype electric motorcycle called the Papoose, was built by the Indian Motorcycle Company under the direction of Floyd Clymer.
In 1974, Auranthic Corp., a small manufacturer in California, produced a small motorcycle called the Charger. It had a 30 mph (48 km/h) and a 50 miles (80 km) range on a full charge.
In the early 1970s, Mike Corbin built a street-legal commuter electric motorcycle called the Corbin Electric. Later in 1974, Corbin, riding a motorcycle called the Quick Silver, set the electric motorcycle speed world record at 165.387 mph (266.165 km/h). The motorcycle used a 24 volt electric starter motor from a Douglas A-4B fighter plane. In 1975, Corbin built a battery-powered prototype street motorcycle called the City Bike. This motorcycle used a battery manufactured by Yardney Electric.
In June 1975, the first Annual Alternative Vehicle Regatta was held at Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. The event was created and promoted by Charles McArthur, an environmentalist. On June 17, Corbin's motorcycle completed the 8 miles (13 km) uphill course in 26 minutes.
1980 to 2000
In 1988, Ed Rannberg, who founded Eyeball Engineering, tested his electric drag motorcycle in Bonneville. In 1992, the January issue of Cycle World carried an article about Ed Rannberg's bike called the KawaSHOCKI. It could complete a quarter mile (0.25 miles (400 m)) in 11–12 seconds.
In 1995, Electric Motorbike Inc. was founded by Scott Cronk and Rick Whisman in Santa Rosa, California. In 1996, EMB Lectra was built by Electric Motorbike Inc., which used a variable reluctance motor. It had a top speed of about 45 mph (72 km/h) and a range of 35 miles (56 km). About a 100 of these were built.
In 1996, the first mass-produced electric scooter, Peugeot Scoot'Elec, was released. It used Nickel-Cadmium batteries and a range of 40 km (25 mi).
2000 to present
On 26 August 2000, Killacycle established a drag racing record of completing a quarter mile (400 m) in 9.450 seconds on the Woodburn track in Oregon. Killacycle used lead acid batteries at a speed of 152.07 mph (244.73 km/h).Later, Killacycle using A123 Systems Li-ion nano-phosphate cells set a new quarter mile record of 7.824 seconds breaking the 8 seconds barrier at 168 miles per hour (270 km/h) in Phoenix, Arizona at the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) 2007, on 10 November 2007.
On 4–5 April 2009, Zero Motorcycles hosted the "24 Hours of Electricross" event in San Jose. It is considered the first all-electric off-road endurance race.
On 14 June 2009, the first electric Time Trial Xtreme Grand Prix (TTXGP) all electric street motorcycle race took place on the Isle of Man in which 13 machines took part. Rob Barber riding a motorcycle built by Team Agni won the race. He completed the 37.73 miles (60.72 km) course in 25 minutes 53.5 seconds, an average speed of 87.434 miles per hour (140.711 km/h).
In 2010, ElectroCat, made by Eva Håkansson, set the record time for an electric motorcycle to climb Pikes Peak. The motorcycle, ridden by John Scollon, completed the 12 miles (19 km) course in 16 minutes 55.849 seconds. ElectroCat uses batteries manufactured by A123 Systems.
On 26 June 2011, Chip Yates broke ElectroCat's previous record at Pikes Peak. He completed the course in 12 minutes 50.094 seconds. On 30 August 2011, Yates riding his prototype SWIGZ.COM electric superbike established the official Guinness record of the fastest electric motorcycle. The motorcycle clocked a speed of 316.899 km/h (196.912 mph) at Bonneville.
In 2012, Paul Ernst Thede set an SCTA record run of 216.8 miles per hour at Bonnevile Salt Flats, Utah. This did not qualify as a Guinness World record as it wasn't timed by the FIM timing association.
On 30 June 2013, Carlin Dunne riding a Lightning Motorcycle-built electric bike beat conventional motorcycles at Pikes Peak. He clocked a 10 minutes 00.694 seconds at the 12.42 miles (19.99 km) course.
Vectrix in 2006 introduced the first commercially available high performance electric scooter, the VX-1. Following insolvency and initial bankruptcy reorganization, the Gold Peak battery group purchased the company in 2009. Vectrix expanded product lines, offering the VX-2 and the three wheeled VX-3. But Vectrix ceased operations in January 2014 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, with its remaining assets auctioned off the following June.
Since 2016, technology has evolved, and electric motorbikes & scooters are now the present, not the future.