From BMW to Harley-Davidson: The EV market accelerates again

It’s been a hectic week for the electric vehicle (EV) market, as some of the major players in the automotive sectors unveil new low-emission models. Here, edie looks at some of the most exciting announcements over the past few days.

The past seven days have been a busy time for low-carbon transport announcements

The past seven days have been a busy time for low-carbon transport announcements

It’s been a landmark week in the transport sector, with the EICMA motorcycle show being held in Milan last Thursday and carmakers such as BMW, Volkswagen and Groupe PSA hosting their own events across Europe. The events seemingly had one thing in common – they served to champion sustainable mobility.

With transport having overtaken power as the UK’s biggest generator of carbon emissions earlier this year, the need for a prompt transition towards a more sustainable sector was raised once more. Indeed, the scale of the problem is such that ministers are facing warnings that the nation will not meet the aims of the Fifth Carbon Budget without policy changes to spur the uptake of EVs.

In response to the issue, top carmakers including Nissan, Volvo and Mazda have committed to electrify their portfolios in recent times, while other firms including Volkswagen and Renault have moved to launch EV car sharing schemes. With this trend continuing at a pace, edie rounds up five of the biggest EV stories of the past week.

1) Harley-Davidson unveils its first e-motorcycle

When you think of Harley-Davidson, chances are you imagine the sound of a petrol motorbike engine revving as a group of bikers ride along a US highway. But after first confirming it was working on a range of e-bikes in 2014, the company this week unveiled LiveWire - its first fully-electric bike.

The zero-emission motorcycle, which is expected to come to the US and European markets in 2019, has a range of 100km per charge. A notable difference between e-bikes and those with petrol or diesel engines is that they do not require gears. Additionally, electric motors offer peak torque immediately from a standstill, making for faster acceleration.

Harley Davidson has dubbed the launch of the model, which was publicly unveiled for the first time at the EICMA motorcycle show last Tuesday (6 November) “the start of a new revolution” for the company. The brand has set a target of attracting two million new riders by 2027.

2) Samsung teams up with Energica to develop plug-in motorcycle

Another noteworthy announcement from the EICMA show came from Italian e-bike brand Energica and tech giant Samsung, which have teamed up to develop a fully-electric motorcycle called the Bolid.e SmartRide.

The two companies claim that the model is the world’s first “smart” e-bike, combining the technologies used in Samsung’s smartphones and watches with an electric motor. The bike features “smart mirrors” which use the bike’s front and rear cameras to assist with parking and flag up obstacles, and can be programmed to turn on when the owner’s Samsung smartwatch is within range. The bike’s range and charge time, however, have not been published.

The vehicle is currently in the prototype stage, with no date having been revealed for a launch to market. Energica’s existing range of e-bikes retail for around €20,000 and  €25,000 – but the “smart” technologies are likely to mean the Bolid.e SmartRide will cost more.

3) BMW pledges to launch six new EV models by 2025

To achieve its aim of having EVs account for 15-20% of its new vehicle sales by 2025, BMW this week committed to develop and launch four new fully-electric vehicles by the end of 2021.  

At one of the carmaker’s own events in Munich last Thursday (8 November), BMW’s chief executive Harald Kruger launched a new sustainability strategy for the company, which will see it sell 25 fully-electric or hybrid-electric vehicle models by 2025.

Kruger confirmed that the company’s first fully-electric Mini will be launched to market by the end of 2019, with an electric version of its X3 SUV due to be debuted the following year. In 2021, BMW will launch an electric crossover called the iNext as well as an e-sedan called the i4.

According to Kruger, BMW will then work to develop a further two EV models before 2025. He estimates that the company will have sold half a million EVs by the end of 2019.

4) Volkswagen hints at plan for ‘affordable’ EV to rival Tesla

Following on from its pledge to produce an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2030, German carmaker Volkswagen is allegedly developing plans to produce an “affordable” range of EVs starting at €18,000.

The company is reportedly planning to launch the range of “entry-level” EVs in 2020 and expecting each model to sell at least 200,000 per year, Bloomberg reported on Friday (9 November), after one of Volkswagen’s own events in Wolfsburg.

The range has been confirmed to include a hatchback called the I.D. Neo, which is set to come to the market in 2020 at a price of around €23,000, and is rumoured to include a €18,000 subcompact crossover vehicle.

5) Car battery R&D facility gets the green light from planners

Away from carmakers, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) was this week granted planning permission to build its flagship research and development facility in Coventry.

The £80m facility, which has received financial backing from the Government’s Faraday Challenge initiative and support from the University of Warwick, will spearhead cutting-edge research into battery manufacturing technology.

Research carried out at the UKBIC, which has committed to working with the academic community and carmaking industry in the Midlands, will range from studies into battery chemistry through to the development of finished battery packs.

Sarah George


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