Why are electric motorcycles so expensive?


Electric motorcycles are known to be far more expensive than internal combustion motorcycles due to battery prices that were at $1,160 per kWh in 2010 but gradually declined to $156 per kWh by 2019. The cost of producing electric motorcycles is expected to drop even further over the next five years.

Overview

In this article, we discuss in more detail why electric motorcycles are so expensive and what we should expect for the upcoming years in the electric motorcycle industry.

We will discuss the following:

  • Production of electric motorcycles
  • Components of electric motorcycles
  • Lithium-ion battery prices

Production of electric motorcycles

The production of electric motorcycles relies on different components used in electric motorcycles but also on development and research.

Since electric motorcycles are fairly new and the number of units sold is low in comparison to traditional internal combustion motorcycles, the research and development costs are a much larger percentage of the overall costs.

Simply put, when buying an electric motorcycle, you are paying more towards research and development than what you would for an internal combustion motorcycle.

But the questions that come up are “why does an electric motorcycle need so much development and research?” and also “why are so few electric motorcycles being sold in comparison to internal combustion motorcycles?”

“why does an electric motorcycle need so much development and research?”

Electric motorcycles are for the most part underdeveloped. Manufacturers don’t have much references and data to conclude viably correct and proven ways of implementing the technologies into their products. It is mostly a trial and error method that they would be relying on.

Also, introducing electric-powered motorcycles that have virtually no engine noise effectively excludes a huge portion of the motorcycling community that regards the sound of a motorcycle as one of the main factors for purchasing a motorcycle.

Research in sound technology for electric motorcycles is one of the fields that need to be researched. But it’s not only to conclude whether a specific portion of the market would prefer a sound from their electric motorcycle but also which sounds would be appealing to them.

In the best-case scenario, you would be able to preview and purchase various sounds for your motorcycle from an app and directly download it to your motorcycle. With a push of a button on the handlebar, you could mute your motorcycle.

In the worst-case scenario, electric motorcycles would just sound like any other traditional internal combustion motorcycle without any preferences or variations.

So there is still a lot of research and development that manufacturers need to do in order for electric motorcycles to take over the market completely.

“why are so few electric motorcycles being sold in comparison to internal combustion motorcycles?”

The reason so few electric motorcycles are being purchased is mainly because of the purchase price and the purchaser’s trust in the product. It’s not specific to any manufacturer but the industry as a whole.

The purchase price is heavily dependant on the number of sales. So as a result, it’s a loop that can’t progress very quickly or as quick as one might hope it would be.

Regarding the purchaser’s trust, buying any motorcycle requires a large sum of money. Naturally, people a wary and sceptical of purchasing products that didn’t have the time to be tested by the general public and receive feedback from them.

This is even evident when looking at established industry leaders that pursue electric motorcycles like Harley-Davidson. Still, at a certain point in time, companies that pursued the electric motorcycle early on will benefit from their efforts as they would have already built a reputation in the industry.

It will take some time for people to become used to the idea of electric motorcycles and trust the products.

Components of electric motorcycles

When comparing electric motorcycles to traditional internal combustion motorcycles, they are fairly similar in general components. The most noticeable difference is that the engine is replaced with an electric motor.

Other than that, the fuel tank is replaced with lithium-ion batteries and the gearbox is swapped for a battery charging unit. Most of the other main components are roughly the same.

These are the most noticeable differences in the main components:

TraditionalElectric
Internal combustion engineElectric motor
Fuel tankLithium-ion batteries
Gearbox (part of the engine)N/A
N/ACharging unit
Water cooling systemAir-cooled for the majority

Lithium-ion battery prices

While electric motors are widely used in all kinds of industries and highly developed, lithium-ion batteries still have a long way to go. The prices of Lithium-ion batteries decrease in price as more of them are manufactured reducing costs of production.

This industry is mainly in the hands of electric car manufacturers as they play a huge role in it. As electric cars develop, so will electric motorcycles.

Though, prices of batteries are mainly how they are connected. Developments in the electric car industry do not necessarily mean development for the electric motorcycle industry. They are only as similar to one another as the traditional cars are to traditional motorcycles.

Below are the lithium-ion battery prices per kWh per year according to Bloomberg:

YearPrice per kWh
2010$1,160
2011$899
2012$707
2013$650
2014$577
2015$373
2016$288
2017$214
2018$176
2019$156

Source: BloombergNEF

Bloomberg also cared to comment on future prices for battery packs with this statement:

“Batteries will fall much faster than you are forecasting.”

Bloomberg

They predicted that by 2024 battery prices will decrease to $94 per kWh based on the historical data.

With this, we can conclude that electric motorcycle prices will drop as battery packs become less costly. But we also need to assume that the market stays competitive, meaning that manufacturers decrease their prices as a result of competition in the industry instead of gaining extra income off of reduced production costs.

Final words

As a conclusion, electric motorcycles are expensive because industries, that they rely on, are still being developed. At some point in time, electric motorcycles might even be cheaper than most traditional internal combustion motorcycles.

Featured image by @alina_cateyka on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

Recent Posts