KTM extends commitment to the electric bike future at Red Bull’s Hanger-7, Austria.
With over a decade of development in electric motorcycles, KTM is soldering its commitment to the electric motherboard with the announcement of “a range of machines including e-mini and e-scooters”, as well as its partnership with German cycle brand PEXCO.
On the back of a presentation for the new Freeride E-XC at Red Bull’s famous aircraft hanger showroom in Salzburg, the Austrian brand and biggest name in off road sport, is making serious its intention to grow electric bike development under its ever-growing umbrella, KTM Industries AG.
Selling over 200,000 bikes a year already, KTM continues to develop new areas of its business, not just in the high-profile MotoGP arena we all know about, but particularly with success in the smaller capacity street bikes market.
KTM’s own parts manufacturing divisions add to the mix and growing new areas of the market with an eye strongly on the future is where this ‘e-mobility’ thrust is coming from.
Costly development and investment
Development doesn’t come without cost though and it is still true to say in most cases investment in the electric motorcycle market continues to outstrip sales.
Some are quoting 20 million Euros invested in bike sales, which total just a few thousand for KTM, though we cannot confirm this.
But KTM seems set on investing to grow a market it wants to lead and for that the 2018 Freeride E-XC is just the tip of that iceberg.
At the Freeride E-XC launch, KTM CEO’s Stefan Pierer said…
“We know that e-mobility will change the landscape of travel in the future, and our vision is very clear.
“Looking ahead to 2025 we expect to have a wider range of models available with a focus in the commuting arena.
“We also plan crossover machines with our collaboration with PEXCO, as well as using our e-mobility expertise in other applications.”
KTM Pedal Power
Who are PEXCO you might ask?
It’s a brand formed by established cycling industry specialists, the German Puello family.
PEXCO Gmbh has a ‘strategic partnership’ with KTM Industries AG for “development, design and manufacture of bicycles and e-bikes.”
Their bicycle brand names recently launched in August 2017 are Raymon and R2R bikes but significantly also includes Husqvarna bicycles.
On the subject of cycle production Pierer, who’s the president of ACEM (Motorcycle Industry Association in Europe) has also said…
“Ten years ago we already started with e-motorcycles and today we are the biggest manufacturer in this niche category.
“Thanks to the e-MTB, the bicycle and motorcycle market are growing closer together. For us the bicycle market and e-bikes are the next logical step to grow our business.”
The race for electric tech
The ACEM represents and promotes the European motorcycle industry in European as well as globally and recently welcomed the European Commission’s GEAR 2030 report, which looks hard at the “profound effects for the future of transport in Europe and beyond.”
Look around on the street and clearly the electric bicycle market in booming.
Motorsport though is also playing a key role in developing technology right now from multi-million Formula E teams to the TT Zero race class at the Isle of Man TT races.
The stumbling block for motorcycles, despite the smaller and lighter electric motor, is battery life, size, weight and keeping them cool.
It is a difficult engineering task many brains in motorsport are working hard at.
KTM is clearly being proactive in a growing market: total registrations of electric mopeds, motorcycles and quads between January 2017 and June 2017 in the EU reached 13,089 units.
That’s an increase of 30.5% compared the same period of 2016 (when 10,576 were registered).
In off road we’re still waiting for that step from fun bike to real competitive bike (though Alta are doing a good job of getting there).
But the argument we hear whenever electric bikes are mentioned is missing the point: the E-XC and the Freeride for that matter, aren’t designed to compete with the regular enduro customer.
We won’t be ditching an EXC for an E-XC just yet and KTM isn’t trying to make us - development of both grows in tandem at Mattighofen.
Evidence from its ‘e-mobility’ launch in Hanger-7 suggests KTM is in electric bikes very much with future development in mind.
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Tester of Things