Dealer Expo 2008: Vehicle manufacturers 'go green'

Publish Date: 
Feb 16, 2008
By Guido Ebert

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. - Leading a "green" lifestyle is becoming increasingly important for consumers around the world. Although major powersports manufacturers have been slow to react — still only showing low-emissions concept vehicles — a small contingent of companies is dedicating its businesses solely to the creation of environmentally friendly motorcycles, scooters and ATVs.  

Vectrix Corp. (Booth 6113), formed in 1996 to develop and commercialize zero-emission-vehicle (ZEV) technologies focused on two-wheel applications, is one of the better-known companies marketing such product in Europe and the United States. The company owns six patents embodying over 100 claims, and has invested more than $25 million in research and development.

Vectrix USA is located in Newport, R.I., and has an engineering and test facility in New Bedford, Mass. Vectrix Europe is based in Rome, Italy. The company's production facility is in Wroclaw, Poland. Carlo Di Biagio, the former CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, SpA, is a board member along with representatives of six other firms, including Fortune 500 company Parker Hannifin.

The first of a series of products designed and developed by Vectrix came in the form of the VXe, a battery-powered maxi-scooter that offers comparable performance to a 400cc gas-powered scoot — a top speed of 62 mph, a range of 68 miles, and a 0-50 mph time of 6.8 seconds. While the VXe is outwardly similar to a gas scooter/motorcycle, the inner workings of the unit feature a brushless DC electric motor that is swing-arm-mounted and puts out 26.8 hp and 47.9 lbs.-ft. of peak torque at 3,000 rpm. The NiMH battery pack has an estimated life of over 10 years, based on an annual mileage of 4,000 miles. Charging the Vectrix VXe is simple and takes only two hours. It can be plugged into any ordinary household electrical charging socket.

Vectrix global sales director Scott Williams says the company's focus is to provide clean, efficient, reliable and affordable inner-city transportation.

Williams says the low-emissions two-wheelers still are relatively rare in the U.S., but adds the units are becoming more popular throughout Europe, particularly with consumers in urban areas and with multi-vehicle fleet operators seeking cleaner, quieter and lower-cost alternatives. Even governments have taken notice. Charging facilities are increasingly available in public car parks, and authorities in a number of cities are encouraging the installation of public charging points. For instance, London already has more than 100 charging points. (continued)