Shock tactics

A new wave of electric motorcycle manufacturers are emerging in Australia. ​

Australia may have lost its automobile manufacturing industry but two entrepreneurial start-ups are seeking to revive our dormant motorcycle-manufacturing industry, with a focus on electric bikes.

Australia once built many motorcycles, including the likes of Lewis, Pasco, Blue Bird, Bullock, De Luxe, Peerless, Invincible JAP, Whiting, Mostyn, Rudge, FN and Norton.

In his 1996 book A-Z of Australian-made Motorcycles: 1893-1942, author Robert Saward details no less than 396 Australian-made or assembled motorcycle brands, most of which were assembled here from imported engines and frames during the first half of the 20th Century.

While it’s been many years since Australia had a motorcycle manufacturing industry to speak of, several local companies are now importing Chinese-made electric scooters and motorcycles to Australian specifications, while others are designing and manufacturing their own electric motorcycles in Australia.

Fonzarelli (pictured below) was the first of this new wave of Australian electric bike makers, launching its dual-sport NKD in October 2019.

The fun, Grom-sized bike is capable of up to 120km of battery electric range and a top speed of 100km/h.

Founder Michelle Nazzari said the NKD minibike was designed and engineered in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Redfern and manufactured in Adelaide.

With an entry level price of $6990 the base model NKDa is capable of a 50km range and a top speed of 80km/h. The upmarket NKDx rises in price to $14,990 but offers a range of 200km and a top speed of 100km/h, which Ms Nazzari says can be reached in just five seconds.

While the Fonzarelli has until now had the locally made electric bike market to itself, the brand is about to be joined by a new model from Savic Motorcycles, who later this year will launch their Savic C-Series.

It’s claimed to be the first full-size electric motorcycle manufactured in Australia and will be priced between $10,999 and $22,999, depending on specification, with a maximum range of 200km.

Fonzarelli electric motorboke

The company’s 28-year-old-founder Dennis Savic says the Australian Government should offer incentives for the fledgling electric vehicle industry in the wake of the demise of domestic automobile manufacturing.

“We would like more help from the government through grants,” he said, adding that the process of accessing a government investment grant or low-interest loan was too arduous.

“It simply takes too long to get through, and the timing and circumstance has to be borderline perfect.”

Mr Savic said he would also like to see tax and other incentives for electric vehicles, like those offered in other countries, to help the fledgling industry.

“We’re an Australia electric motorcycle business. We’ve developed our own technology and we’re kicking off production this year. We need all the help we can get.”

While the Savic C-Series is currently at prototype stage, the proposed pricing is significantly less expensive than the Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire, which launched last year in the northern hemisphere at $US30,000. The electric Harley is scheduled to be available in Australia from late 2021, with pricing yet to be confirmed.

The Savic Alpha’s claimed 0-100km/h acceleration of just over three seconds, range of 200km and four to six hours charge time compares favourably with the US-made LiveWire’s urban range of 235km and highway range of 150km, as well as its three second 0-100km/h time.

The Savic will be available in three trim levels – Alpha, Delta and Omega – providing different electric motor outputs, range and performance.

The bikes feature a fully integrated, stressed, liquid-cooled motor and energy storage system, said Mr Dennis, who spent more than 650 hours designing and building the prototype.

“When I was 14, I decided I wanted to design and build my own vehicles one day,” Mr Dennis said.

“I did my engineering degree and when I graduated about three years ago, I got stuck into it.

“These motorcycles are a unique offering with the most advanced features and functionality that the materials, engineering, electronic controls, electrical technology and 3D printing can offer today. 

“We have created a unique design featuring a perfectly rolled (not bent) backbone frame and developed our own powertrain package.” 

Savic C-Series tech specs:

Specifications Alpha  Delta  Omega
 Power  60kW  40kW  25kW
 Torque  190nM TBC TBC
 Range  200km TBC TBC
 Charge time  4-6 hours TBC TBC
 0-100km/h  3s 900ms  TBC  TBC
 Price (+ORC)  $22,999.00 $15,999.00   $10,999.00