I’ve been playing a bit of the “middleman” role between a guy who is interested in the Brammo Enertia and Brian Wismann, Lead Designer at Brammo.
The guy, (let’s call him Spork, after the wonderful invention that straddles the line between spoon and fork) lives in or near Los Angeles, has ridden motorcycles before and is a fan of the Aptera:
He had an opportunity to test drive one of the prototypes. In his own, eloquent, words: It’s an awesome car/motorcycle/spaceship but they’ve already pushed the production date by more than a year. I’m afraid the road to successful EVs will be littered with brilliant concepts that didn’t catch on or weren’t even produced.
Spork was thinking of buying an Enertia to satisfy his EV lust until the Aptera is produced. He had some concerns about it, most notably, the lack of regenerative braking. I have already covered the issue of regen braking in Why the Brammo Enertia lacks Regen Braking. Spork watched the video posted last week of the designer’s morning commute and said that if Wismann “had to ride in stop and go LA traffic, we’d have regen on the Brammo. I still think it should be there for safety, though.”
I forwarded Spork’s comments to Wismann and asked him if stop-and-go traffic would change his mind about the lack of regen. He responded with some further comments that go into a bit more detail than the earlier article:
No. This wouldn’t change my position on regen and he’s mistaken if he thinks commuting in stop and go traffic in LA would turn the tables. [Spork] should really just take an Enertia for a test ride, I think he’ll be very impressed with the bike’s performance both on and off throttle and will ease his concern over the safety of the bike. I’m probably not doing a good job with this regen issue as it’s obviously been worked into the minds of consumers that it is a requirement for a properly functioning electric by marketers wanting to establish a competitive advantage for a “new technology”. The whole truth is that the Enertia DOES regen a little – in fact it’s impossible for us to turn it all the way off, which gives some “engine braking” effect as you roll off throttle. But, even with the best regen system in the world, the advantage is minute compared to gains to be made by focusing on other systems on the bike. As far as safety is concerned, consider that regen applies a braking force to the rear wheel. As weight transfers to the front tire under braking loads, the rear tire is less and less capable of handling braking forces due to reduced traction. Without knowing the appropriate amount of regen brake force to apply under all conditions (panic stop on sticky tarmac vs. panic stop on wet concrete), I see the safety issue going the other way. Mechanical brakes do a great job at stopping the bike, are simple, predictable, and everyone knows how to use them. Introducing a new control to learn in the way of regen is a safety liability in my mind.
We’re trying to provide the best solution for our customers. I’m not trying to make excuses, just expose the uncomfortable truth that “free energy” from regen is a myth and as with lots of things, the details make execution much more difficult in the real world than it seems from the outside looking in. BTW – None of the pro class teams at the TTXGP were running regen as far as I know. The only team that claimed regen was Electric Motorsports, who ran in the open class and finished over 4 minutes behind us.
If this issue is what keeps him from buying an Enertia, then so be it, but I’ll still sleep at night knowing that we’re providing the best solution on the market today without all the marketing fluff, stretched performance claims, and hollow promises that have plagued electric vehicles for so long…
He really just needs to ride the bike, though. It’s really that good.