EICMA 2010: Rise of the Electric Vehicles

Brammo Raggaze, as lovely in Italy as they are in California

EICMA is one of the world’s largest motorcycle trade shows. Held in Milan each fall, motorcycle manufacturers release new models either here or at EICMA’s competitor, Intermot. The two shows compete for exclusives, so while TTXGP and Mavizen were only present at Intermot, Brammo was present at EICMA. Brammo was in the American Pavilion around the corner from my client ScooterGirls and a short walk from the more famous American brand, Harley Davidson. However, taking over a larger corner of the hall than last year was “The Green Planet” which was dominated by electric-assisted bicycles and full electric scooters.

I like the classic look of the Harbin pedal-assist bicycles, but it’s funny they’re from the Netherlands, where there are practically no hills. When I asked the Harbin sales rep why they only had pedal-assisted bicycles and not ones with actual throttles, he explained that in the EU, electric bicycles with throttles (and higher top speeds) are considered mopeds and require a moped license.

XO Urban Transformer. No, it’s not broken, it’s just resting.

There was a broad range of electric scooters on display throughout the show, despite the fact that Italy currently has no EV subsidies. The pricing ranged in interesting ways, with one as low as €2,000 and another priced at €3,500 plus €50/month to rent the battery! The XO Urban Transformer folds up into a massive box you and a friend can carry around, and wheel the battery off separately. Not exactly practical, especially when there’s ample free scooter parking in every European city.

XO Urban Transformer disguised as a scooter.

The cheaper scooter was the etropolis which is a subsidiary of SiG Solar, a German company in the business of making and installing solar panels. They explained to me that they felt it made sense to develop an EV for their customers to plug into their solar carports. Makes sense to me, especially when it’s seen as a nice bonus to go with that pricey solar array you just bought.

Also entertaining was the Elmoto which I dubbed the “Mini-Enertia” because it looks so much like a Brammo Enertia. I took one for a spin around the indoor test track they’d set up for electric bikes, and it was a blast. It had a tighter turning radius than most bicycles I’ve ridden! The test track was plenty big for having fun, and I felt like I should go for another round, as I watched a rather staid Italian businessman take the etropolis around and around like he was Valentino Rossi on race day!

EICMA’s EV Test Track Paddock.

I debated with an Italian about how the Chevy Volt plays into range anxiety. I said it should be pure electric, he said he wanted one anyway, so he’d have one car for both city and long road trips. Because scootering is such a dominant mode of transport in European cities, they’re likely to adopt electric more quickly than in the US where we still quake in fear of running out of juice on the way to Whole Foods. Next… more photos of cool electric scooters you won’t see in the US anytime soon. Except maybe at Hollywood Electrics.

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.