Is the future of transportation arriving on two wheels? While everyone is not going to begin riding motorcycles we may see practical wide scale production of alternative power in motorcycles before we see it in cars.
Hybrids and biodiesel are moving forward in cars but these technologies are more like variations of the internal combustion engine than a new form of power. They extend the life of internal combustion and help the transition to future power while making use of infrastructure already in place, fuel cell and all electric vehicles, on the other hand, are a step off the internal combustion path.
Case in point, the ENV or hydrogen motorcycle. Intelligent Energy is moving to LA to begin production of their fuel cell powered motorcycle and they’re planning to introduce it by 2006. Many cars powered by fuel cells exist but no one is suggesting they’ll be ready any time soon at a cost the average driver could afford.
Numerous electric motorcycles and scooters are on the way already and the lower weight of a motorcycle makes their performance capabilities high. Many people might like to buy a vehicle with alternative power but not if they have to give up lots of performance and with a motorcycle they may not have to.
Once these vehicles are on the road and manufacturers get more experience with daily usage on a wider scale they’ll learn more about what needs to be improved. Large scale production will also help bring the cost down for individual units. Over time these improvements may make larger vehicles practical and cost effective. Sales of these alternative power motorcycles will also help finance more development of the vehicles themselves and the power units they use. Seeing these vehicles on the road also increases their visibility to the general public that may not follow every trend in new vehicle power systems. Future drivers of those fuel cell cars may have the early fuel cell motorcycles to thank for getting things rolling a lot sooner.