Motorcycles need to be cleaner
If two things can be said about motorcycles and their riders, it is that there are many of them and that the use and variety is almost as large as their numbers. There is one thing they have in common though: almost all motorcycles still run on petrol and
General Secretary FEMA
I think we can safely say that electricity in due time will be the standard for urban transport and for motorcycles that are used in urban areas and commuting. However: this will take some time.
While the car industry is already making the switch to electric driving (especially in China), and e-bikes and small electric scooters are also becoming quite familiar, we still see little progression with motorcycles. This has its reasons of course: a short range, lack of infrastructure, high purchase costs and low petrol prices don’t make electric riding very attractive yet. For the leisure riders in mainly the western and northern parts of Europe and in the USA another aspect is important, which is usually described as ‘experience’; the sound, feel, even the smell of an internal combustion engine are important parts of this.
What does this mean? Of course, with more developed and cheaper batteries, electric motorcycles will become more affordable and usable. Between now and perhaps 2030 we will see a transition from combustion engines for motorcycles to electric engines, especially in the urban areas. This process will be accelerated by restrictions to enter cities with a vehicle with combustion engine. The focus is now on cars and trucks, but that is just a matter of time. Motorcycles will be – and in cities like London and Paris already are – included in the restrictions. I think we can safely say that electricity in due time will be the standard for urban transport and for motorcycles that are used in urban areas and commuting. However: this will take some time. The electric motorcycles that are on the market now cannot compete with petrol-fuelled bikes: they are still expensive to buy and the range is not enough for many riders. Also, the lack of infrastructure to charge the bike is still a problem. This means, that many motorcyclists who are potential buyers of an electric motorcycle still decide otherwise and buy a motorcycle with an internal combustion engine. And of course there are the leisure riders who will keep riding with petrol bikes as long as possible and perhaps sometime will switch to bio-fuels. So, the old fashioned petrol-fuelled motorcycle with an internal combustion engine will stay on the road for some time.
Above you read that I expect petrol fuelled motorcycles to be used by us for some time. This means, that we will need to have them accepted by a society that is struggling to get cleaner, to avoid the emission of too much CO2 and to use less fuel. Motorcycles in general already use less fuel than cars, but it should be even less. Especially because cars are, at least on paper, getting cleaner and more fuel economic with every new model. In short: to stay competitive, motorcycles need to use less fuel and emit less pollution and greenhouse gasses like CO2. This can be done and the manufacturers, forced by the new Euro 4 and 5 limits, are working very hard to achieve this. They also have the duty to inform the customer about these figures when they sell a new motorcycle. We are in a situation where both legislators and industry are working hard to get our bikes cleaner and less consuming. The question now is: where are the costumers? Do we prefer fuel efficient motorcycles to ones that can ride faster than we ever will or accelerate as a rocket? The best sold motorcycles, at least in Europe, are not the cleanest and the most fuel economic ones, so it seems not.
To be able to keep riding, our motorcycles need to be cleaner and more fuel economic. The industry does what it must do and produces cleaner and more economic bikes. In the big motorcycle countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia et cetera, small bikes have always been the standard. This does not necessarily mean that they are cleaner, but they do use less fuel and therefore emit less CO2. Now it is the European customer’s turn to ask for and buy them. FEMA and FIM are working with the industry to have the consumer informed better and earlier. To make a balanced choice you need the relevant information when you are considering to buy a motorcycle, not when you have already made your decision. The industry agrees with this and almost all manufacturers now do publish the fuel consumption conform the new WMTC standards. There are many bikes on the market, and not only small ones, that have good emission and fuel consumption figures. The consumer can compare them. Now it is up to the customer to take the next step. This means that the rider has to be aware of what he needs, what he wants and what the consequences are before he makes a choice. It’s still his choice, but he has to think it over.