I dig internal combustion as much as the next guy. Check that. I most certainly dig internal combustion way more than the next guy, unless that guy is someone like boardtrack legend Shrimp Burns, uber-racer Jeff Ward or off-road young gun Cory Buttrick (member sign in required).
Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate other means of two-wheeled propulsion, including electric motorcycles. After all, as anyone who has ridden a Briggs & Stratton-powered minibike around a backyard can tell you, any motorcycle can light you up if you give it a chance.
The latest chapter of the evolution of electric motorcycles is being writing by Zero Motorcycles. The California company just announced it will open a new motorcycling manufacturing facility alongside its corporate headquarters in Santa Cruz County. This is great news amid a shrinking American manufacturing sector in general -- and a struggling motorcycle industry in particular.
According to the press release, the idea is to keep manufacturing close to research, which these days is focusing on something the company calls its “$1.84 million next-generation powertrain project.”
Whether you’re sold on electric motorcycles or not -- and, remember, no one said gasoline vs. electric is an either/or proposition -- you should be excited about collateral benefits like these. After all, the growth of electric-powered motorcycles is igniting an internal combustion of another kind: American ingenuity and manufacturing. Who can argue with that?
Here's the press release...
ZERO MOTORCYCLES BUILDS NEW U.S. MANUFACTURING FACILITIES AS IT RAMPS UP FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IN 2011
More Space, More Workers and Higher Volumes to Meet Growing Global Demand -
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., (January 25, 2011) – Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, has announced plans to open a new motorcycle manufacturing facility that will more than double the company’s current production capacity. Being built alongside Zero Motorcycles’ corporate headquarters in Santa Cruz County, it will provide Zero with a powerful competitive advantage in a fast paced industry. By keeping manufacturing and R&D working shoulder to shoulder, Zero’s strategy is to streamline the inclusion of their latest technology into production before the competition. Falling on the heels of Zero’s recently announced $1.84 million ‘next generation’ powertrain project, the new factory is another sign of the company’s continued growth and momentum. For motorcyclists the result will be more advanced motorcycles that they can actually own and for California this means more ‘green jobs’.
"With this exciting new expansion, we reconfirm our commitment to building the best electric motorcycles in the world as well as creating U.S. based manufacturing jobs”, said Steve Salyer, Vice President of Operations for Zero Motorcycles. "Quality Control at the highest levels means personally inspecting each bike as it comes off the assembly line. Moreover, in the spirit of continual improvement and innovation, we believe that having our manufacturing and engineering teams collaborating within the same space gives us both an operational and developmental competitive advantage."
The new facility will bring Zero’s total production space to 34,000 square feet and is supported by a redevelopment grant from the city of Scotts Valley. Rewarded for their innovative technology, Zero will utilize the space to meet an increase in consumer demand and to continue to develop their advanced powertrain technology. As the motorcycles come off the line they will be crated and shipped off to meet Zero’s growing global demand.
"Since the inception of Zero Motorcycles, Santa Cruz County has been our home. With many companies looking outside of the U.S. to develop and build their products, we are proud to say we are continuing our support of our local community," said Gene Banman, CEO of Zero Motorcycles. "At the same time, we are responding quickly to an increasing global demand for our motorcycles. This investment positions us ideally for further growth, innovation and development as we move into 2012 and beyond.
Renovations begin in early 2011 with the first production motorcycle expected to roll out by late February 2011. The company plans to add twenty-five employees by mid-2011.
ABOUT ZERO MOTORCYCLES:
Zero Motorcycles is the next step in motorcycle evolution and represents the ultimate electric motorcycle technology. Unencumbered by conventional thinking about how they design, manufacture and sell high performance electric motorcycles, they are on a mission to turn heads and revolutionize their industry by combining the best aspects of a traditional motorcycle with today’s most advanced technology.