By Ben Mack
A San Francisco startup led by a former Tesla Motors engineer is developing an electric motorcycle capable of 150 mph, a claim that, if true, would make it the fastest production electric vehicle in the world.
Mission Motors unveiled the bike, dubbed Mission One, at the TED conference and said it will begin selling them next year for $69,000 apiece. Although several electric motorcycles have been announced in recent weeks, Mission Motors sticks out because its 12 employees have worked for Tesla, Ducati North America and Intel, and the bike they're building could set a new benchmark for EVs of all kinds.
"As a motorcycle enthusiast and engineer, I knew I could combine my passion for motorcycles with my passion for innovation and create a motorcycle that truly sets a new standard in the perception of electric vehicles," company founder and CEO Forrest North said at the Mission One's launch.
The prototype, wearing bodywork designed by Yves Behar,
is based on a Ducati 900 was designed entirely in-house by Mission Motors. Power comes from a 3-phase AC induction motor and a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery the company claims delivers 150 miles and recharges in just two hours at 240 volts. That climbs to eight hours at 120 volts.
Top-shelf hardware includes Ohlins suspension at both ends, four-piston Brembo brakes and Marchesini forged wheels. The components - and the claimed 150 horsepower - put the bike on par with hardcore sportbikes like the Ducati 1198. That's exactly what North had in mind.
"With Mission One, we're writing the next chapter in motorcycle design, delivering a new riding experience without sacrificing performance or design in a zero emissions vehicle," he said in a statement.
Mission Motors was called Hum Cycles when North launched the company in 2007 after spending a year at Tesla, where he worked on the battery pack that powers the Roadster. Since then he's assembled an impressive team drawn from Silicon Valley and Ducati North America. Vice president of engineering Mason Cabot spent 10 years at Intel. VP of finance Dan Kaplan was CFO of Ducati North America and director of finance at Tesla. Product manager Jeremy Cleland is a motorcycle racer who also has worked for both Ducati and Tesla.
So far the company has raised $1.5 million from investors and capital venture firms like One Earth Capital. As Forbes notes, that won't last long, and Tesla's shown that building a high-dollar, high-performance EV is a tricky proposition. And in addition to going up against startups like Zero Motors and Brammo, Mission Motors will be competing with major manufacturers like Honda and KTM as they develop electric motorcycles.
North says production will begin next year and he's already sold five bikes. The first run is limited to 50 hand-built bikes, which will be followed by a bigger run of 250 before the company introduces a more affordable model.
The company plans to race the bike in the TTXGP, a zero-emissions motorcycle grand prix slated for the Isle of Man, on June 14th.