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With the current high prices for petrol and the threat of fuel strikes never far away, the cost of filling up for the daily commute is probably on a fair number of peoples minds at the moment. Personally, I'm looking to buy a motorcycle when I start a new job (hopefully in the near future). I have ridden bikes for many years and have also used a car having passed my test only a few years ago. For me the motorcycle is my first choice this time round as I'll need to watch the pennies when it comes to fuel and there's also the heavy traffic which can be a nightmare, and of course parking!
I'm probably going to end up with an old used bike that's been around for a few years. My budget will be tight and I'll just have to pick up whatever I can afford from whatever is available at the time. Public transport isn't really an option because it's too slow and not exactly cheap either - thats another gripe though! But what I really would like isn't actually a big brand new sports bike or cruiser from the showroom down the road. Given the choice and if I had the money, I'd buy an electric motorcycle.
I saw a video a while back from a company called Zero Motorcycles with a demo of one of their products. It's a street motorcycle and it's every bit as attractive as a petrol equivalent, with exceptional performance and with an acceptable range for someone with ordinary distance to commute I imagined I'd soon see them everywhere. Sadly though these bikes come with an impressive price tag so my dreams and probably those of every other biker who would be willing to make the switch have been dashed.
Did you know that in January last year the UK government launched an incentive to help people who wanted to buy electric cars? Nope, neither did I. Apparently with the plug-in car grant you can reduce the cost of buying your electric car by 25% and the amount is currently capped at £5,000. Similarly a plug-in van grant was introduced in January this year so that people buying a van can expect a 20% discount with amount capped at £8,000.
My gripe is really that there isn't an equivalent incentive to for motorcyclists. There currently is no plug-in motorcycle grant to help with the purchase of an electric motorcycle. Perhaps we have to wait until next January before that gets introduced? We can certainly live in hope, but I have a feeling that well be disappointed. Personally, I couldn't afford one of these machines even with a grant but I'm willing to bet there are a few people who would consider them if the option was there and that is exactly what is needed - consumer demand.
I think that the whole electric vehicle industry needs to be thoroughly kick-started (excuse the pun) and for me that includes motorbikes. In the early days of motoring the motorcycle was a first choice for many because cars were too expensive. As they're smaller, lighter, more efficient and usually more affordable, surely it makes sense to include two-wheeled options in future financial incentive for EVs?
More information about electric vehicles
Zero Motorcycles - Home page of a manufacturer that produces all-electric motorcycles. According to the website there are currently three dealers in the south east of England, but hopefully more will follow soon.
Bramo - 100% electric motorcycles - An interesting range of very nice looking motorcycles. No information about sales in the UK though.
UK government launches £5,000 electric car grant scheme - An article in the Guardian announcing the introduction of the grant for electric cars.
Government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles - More information on the UK government plug-in grant for electric cars and vans. The interesting part is the section under United Kingdom which states: 'Only ultra-low emission cars are eligible (vehicle category M1). Motorbikes, quadricycles and vans are not covered.'