On national drive electric day, September 10th, Zero motorcycles celebrated their 10th anniversary. We’ve been covering their progress since the beginning. In fact, my first article for gas2 was a review of the 2009 Zero S. They’ve certainly come a long way since I first reviewed one here, and I was very excited to celebrate with them.
We were treated to factory tours, demo rides of the 2016 fleet, and inspiring talks. I really enjoyed watching Terry Hershner tell his Zero story, as we’ve chronicled parts of it here.
We weren’t allowed to take photos in the factory, but I’ll give you the highlights. The factory has moved to a much bigger facility than the one I visited in 2010, capable of building as many as 20 zeroes per day. Sure, that’s a lot less than the one car per hour Ford’s robots can build, but a lot more people drive cars in America. For now.
The most exciting thing I saw in the factory, aside from the mysterious empty space behind the battery on a 2017 model were the DC tools at every station. These tools are connected to a server and they’re programmed to reach the required torque setting for the bolt being installed. If they don’t get torqued correctly, the builder is decommissioned. Kidding. An alarm notifies the builder that the torque needs to be corrected.
If a bolt is stripped or some other issue occurs, the bike leaves the assembly line and goes to “the hospital” where specialists fix it. Every stage of the build takes about 25 minutes, and Zero has the capacity to build up to 20 bikes a day. One particularly cool trick they have is a UV treated waterproofing they put on all the bolts. This prevents the sort of failure that can really ruin an EV rider’s rainy day ride.
But the best advancement of all has been how Zero has been able to increase range and lower price over the years. Model Year 2016 bikes have as much as 16 times the range of MY07. Prices continue to drop while components improve. 2016 models are $1,000 less than models sold a few years ago.
Yes, I’m a fangirl. I was considering buying a Brammo Empulse until I took a 2013 Zero FX for a spin. I waited that long because I wanted a motorcycle I knew could hold its own in LA traffic. Previous model year Zeroes and the Brammo Enertia never had quite enough power to make me believe they could survive in the urban jungle. The FX(S) is quite a different bike than the sportbikes I had been riding for years. But it’s gobs of fun.
At the Further with Ford conference, Dan Ariely claimed that EV’s are an effective method of reward substitution regarding global warming because of the ego fix (aka “the smug“) But for those of us who enjoy the sport of riding, or driving, it’s really the torque that gives us that instant gratification he speaks of. Helping the planet remain habitable a bit longer is so much easier when it means beating absolutely every single vehicle off the line at every green light you’ve ever launched from. We’ll have more news from Further with Ford in the days to come.