KTM’s CEO Stefan Pierer gives away electric secrets at Freeride E-XC press launch
KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has given the world a master plan of what electric motorcycles, and E-mobility, for his family of brands will look like in the coming decades. This is KTM’s Electric Future.
Speaking frankly to a live audience at Red Bull’s Hangar-7 man-cave in Salzburg, Austria, Pierer outlined a shift into electric powered development for urban mobility and, albeit lightly, sport.
The media unveiling of the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC off-road machine (where Pierer made his comments) was also broadcast to the North American endemic motorcycle media. This report from Cycle News gives a nice play-by-play of the shocking (yep) plans.
But don’t worry, ADV motorcycles will still be gas-powered. And, it turns out, gas-powered bikes’ sales are actually financing the entire E-mobility craze inside Big Orange and will probably lead to saving the planet. And KTM makes more money off bikes that go in the dirt than anything else. So, off-road rules again. You’re welcome, world.
As reported in CN, Pierer believes E-mobility is set to dominate the urban mobility segment as technology, power output, range, and safety all merge to service this segment perfectly. These are bikes with power outputs from 250-400 watts on the scooter end of the spectrum, up to nearly 20 kilowatts (the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC can produce 18 kilowatts).
Basically, what the bosses at KTM are saying is that the long-term future of electric two-wheelers is equivalent to the power output of 250 cc two-strokes and less. Also, there will be a lot more blending of electric bicycles and motorcycles. Expect Husqvarna to lead the charge (yep) in the E-Bicycle-like branding efforts thanks to Pierer’s recent business launch and partnership under PEXCO – a German electric bicycle company.
But why not bigger ADV bikes? Or sport bikes (if anyone cares about bikes on the street)? Or competition off-road/MX bikes like Alta’s seemingly valiant-yet compromised effort? The answer from KTM is simple: A lack of technology, power output, range, and safety, etc.
That means the spy shots of Electric Dukes floating around in the spring were probably experimental/conceptual or scrapped. Or, KTM is lying to us and is going to eliminate all combustion engines and come out with a KTM E-Adventure R.
Stepping away from conspiracy theories for a minute, KTM says to produce bikes with the range and power to satisfy the needs of real travel or full-size sport customers, there simply isn’t the technology.
Technology is a catch-all here for; raw materials sustainability and sourcing, battery supplier reliability, recycling plans for displaced battery units, how to deal with these vehicles when they crash and start on fire, how to extend range safely so they don’t explode, how to keep people’s houses from burning down when they’re charging in the garage, cost-effective solutions to make the whole e-trend actually sell, etc. Those are not insignificant reasons that are restricting the advancement of all-electric vehicles here for grown-ups.
According to Pierer, producing effective consumer electric-only motorcycles resembling anything close to what current ADV bikes are is a fantasy. But the door is definitely open for hybrid technology. And here is where we can expect to see bikes like ADV motorcycles get some lift in the future. A hybrid gas/electric KTM 1090 Adventure R? Ok!
But, that’s not coming too soon. And, typically, it seems the smallest dirt-worshipers are going to get the fruits of KTM’s E-labor before we even sniff a KTM Adventure with a plug-in.
KTM plans to scrap the 50 cc SX-range of competition bikes’ gas-powered engines and have the gateway drug of motorcycling entirely powered by electricity within the next two years. Then, they’ll have a play bike category bicycle thing that will definitely suck for ADV.
So, unless you had plans to go around the world on a 50 cc dirt bike, a scooter, a Freeride dirt bike or a bicycle-like thing, you can safely plan on buying gas for your next ADV trip.