Despite electric bikes being known for their noiselessness, Energica's entry is set to make a noise. The Italian company, nicknamed the two-wheeled Tesla, is ready to take on the challenge, guided by its CEO Livia Cevolini. At the team Gresini presentation in Trento, her shirt bore the words “high voltage”, an effective business card.
An electric bike in a fuel-powered world and a woman in something of a male-dominated field. Not the best way to start…
“I'm used to it (she laughs). It will be an opportunity to show that there is no truth in certain tales. If the project is managed with professionalism, it doesn't matter the technology used or whether a woman or a man is heading it up”.
Is the MotoE World Cup the place to do this?
“It's an opportunity not to be missed. As a company, we are new and it is important to build credibility. This is a 'real' world championship, organised by Dorna, we can really show our professionalism”.
Are you nervous about being catapulted into the world of racing?
“No, because it's the area in which we have most experience, also in Formula 1. The production of bikes came after racing and I'd been wanting to get back to it for a while, ever since we carried out the first tests”.
Riders are known for being eternally unsatisfied… are you ready for their criticisms?
“That doesn't worry me, I'm ready to work with them even though I know there is no magic wand. Dorna has already made some significant requests that required a lot of development and work on the bike, that done we can work on the details over the coming years”.
Will we see races in which riders need worry about autonomy?
“No, because we will debut a new battery, lighter in weight and offering greater performance. The races will be about 10 laps, depending on the length of the track, and riders will be able to give it their all in the races. The strength of the electric motor is the torque, for example our bike goes from 0 to 100 Km/h in less than 3 seconds”.
We know that racing helps with development, is this also true for electric bikes?
“The races are the perfect test bench, and we'll be the only ones in the world to have this”.
But this won't be enough to win a place in the fans' hearts…
“A few years ago, when we still used dial up phones at home, who would have said we'd soon be spending 1000 euro on a mobile? Smartphones aren't even that good when it comes to making calls (she smiles) but they do many other things, they keep us connected”.
But a bike is not a phone…
“But you have to understand that the electric bike is something different. When we can use an electric vehicle in the same way as a fuel-powered one, thanks to the same infrastructure, we won't only see the advantages but also its diversity. The interconnection is something closely linked to the electric vehicle, like the smartphones and tablets we love so much”.
The fans like the noise too…
“From an engineer's standpoint, noise and bad smells are nothing positive, they simply indicate a dispersion of energy”.
Is there too much romanticism?
“In this vision yes, noise and heat are simply side effects”.
How will you convince the masses?
“Like I said, by making them understand that this is something different. Those who like tradition will struggle more, but if they test electrics vehicles they will see the advantages. The new generations are more receptive, it's a pity that youngsters are not very interested in bikes”.
A real problem…
“They don't ride because they're not interested, they will spend a thousand euro on a smartphone or a pair of shoes but not even one euro on a used scooter”.
Is racing a way to reach them?
“They are not really interested in that world either. The solution? To understand what people will want tomorrow, because for today it's already too late. You need a nose for these things, some have it, others don't”.
Will this be enough to get everyone to go electric?
“That's not the goal, I think that the two types of vehicle will continue to co-exist, people will choose the solution that best suits them”.
And in racing?
“For electric to replace fuel-powered bikes would depend on many elements, it's not just a question of performance or culture. It's a question I cannot answer, but the more people see electric vehicles on the road, the more they will want to see them on track, it's also a question of identification. There will be a time in which the two world comes into direct competition, but perhaps my daughter will be the one to witness that, rather than me”.