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Brammo's $10 million electric motorcycle

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

BrammoMotorcycle Best Buy Capital invested $10 million in Brammo’s Enertia electric motorcycle, which has a top speed of 55 mph.

ASHLAND Craig Bramscher knows how to take a company public, and he’s as good a bet as any to break Oregon’s IPO drought.

Bramscher, the charismatic founder and CEO of Brammo Motorsports, has scored $10 million from Best Buy Capital and high praise from Wired magazine for his new Brammo Enertia electric motorcycle. His plan is to crank out affordable, high-performance bikes in Ashland and grow from 22 employees to 120 by the end of 2009, and 240 by the end of 2010.

Sounds a tad optimistic given current trends, but when Bramscher explains his strategy and the market it is easy to see why Best Buy invested, tight times or no. He plans to start shipping motorcycles by March, expand into a new 40,000-square-foot building this coming summer and go global by 2010.

“This will be our assembly line,” he says, pointing to a narrow stretch of concrete between shelves stocked with parts at his Ashland operation. “We just got our first order of batteries.”

A tech entrepreneur who timed the bubble just right, Bramscher moved from Malibu to Ashland to raise his family and start a business. He started in his garage, building gas-guzzling racecars. It was performance rather than idealism that led him to experiment with electric motors. Now the company has a carbon calculator at its website.

The Enertia is nimble, quick, and disarmingly quiet. Top speed is 55 mph; range is 45 miles; charging takes three hours. With no fuel or oil, it is also surprisingly clean. Bramscher would drive it right into the elevator to haul it up to the offices of investors he was wooing.

The $10 million from Best Buy could be just the beginning for Brammo, with a larger prize being potential access to a serious national distribution system. Only 3% of American drivers ride motorcycles, compared to 20% in Europe. That could change quickly with the introduction of a whole new species of distinctly un-hog-like motorcycles.          


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