BY STEVE WARGA
Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher stands next to the Empulse, the world's most advanced electric-powered motorcycle.
// Photo by George Rubaloff
In retrospect, it seems almost inevitable that a supremely innovative, self-confessed “gearhead” like Craig Bramscher would eventually conceive the idea of building the world’s most advanced electric-powered motorcycle. The Empulse greeted the world in December 2012 to rave reviews from both motorcycle enthusiasts and green-energy advocates. This emission-free sport bike is not your average plug-in scooter. It can reach speeds over 100 mph and can go as far as 100 miles between charges, all wrapped in a design that’s turned the burgeoning e-motorcycle world on its ear.
Ashland-based Brammo’s certified green machines are what CEO and founder Bramscher believes to be part of the answer to the question of what will replace internal combustion engines and their voracious appetites for distilled petroleum products.
“I know that electric vehicles are better than gas for the planet, for the vehicle and for the people, long term,” Bramscher says. “It’s a good fight to fight. I believe in it 100%.” He’d like to see Oregon fully onboard with the green revolution, too.
Thanks to Bramscher’s team of talented and dedicated engineers, designers, fabricators and support staff, numbering close to 100, Brammo has grown from an impudent upstart to a global brand name in little more than three years. He jokes that his crew, many of whom have been on board since the beginning, has acquired a narrowly focused cynicism. Every time he says something can’t be done, they turn around and do it better and quicker than anyone’s done it before.
|CEO: Craig Bramscher|
|Factoid: The Empulse has zero emissions at 100 mph|
This out-of-the-box thinking comes from the top down. Four years ago, Bramscher, 52, had a prototype commuter e-motorcycle, the Enertia, limited capital and no distribution network. The solution? “We thought it’s mostly an electronic device,” he says. “So why not talk to a high-profile electronics retailer?” That August, Best Buy infused $10 million into the company and started making plans to stock Brammo products alongside all those big-screen TVs and other consumer electronics on display to “half a billion visitors per year,” compared to about 10 million prospects, total, in all the motorcycle dealerships in the country.
Best Buy has since had to withdraw from the dealership program. But Bramscher says they’re still onboard with their stake in Brammo.
For 2013 the company offers three separate motorcycle platforms, including a motocross bike, the Engage. They’re taking orders now for multiple configurations at prices ranging from $7,995 to $18,995. The dealership development team says it would like to see “35 top-tier dealers” by 2014. It’s all part of their intent to be a “significant player” in a global market estimated to grow to 18.6 million units by 2018, according to Pike Research of Boulder, Colo.