Let’s say you want to buy an electric motorcycle: can you just go to your local dealer and ride home with it? If you live in San Francisco or a growing number of other large cities, the answer is yes!
Since there are only two brands of electric motorcycle, the choice is rather limited. Visit the web sites of Zero Motorcycles and Brammo Inc., and you will find the list of their dealers. For Brammo, the list is not very long: 10 dealers in 7 states for the US, and 48 dealers in 11 European countries. Zero has a much larger US network, with dealers in almost every state, plus one in Panama, Colombia, Brazil and Australia. Its European network has 47 dealers in 10 countries plus one dealer in Israel.
San Francisco has an official dealer for both Zero and Brammo, and since I am lucky enough to live there I decided to go check them out, fearing the worst. To my surprise, both dealers had bikes in stock, and their sales people were pleasant and knowledgeable.
In the showroom of the Brammo dealer, Scuderia, I found three 2013 models: an Enertia Plus, and two Empulse R (one white, one black). The salesperson confirmed that the 2014 are not available yet, and that the 2013 models came with a $2000 discount. The three bikes were by themselves in a corner of the showroom, somewhat isolated. I wish the store would put some posters or other decoration to highlight these Brammos! No sign outside the store mentions that this is a Brammo dealership. Obviously, this is all very new!
The Zero dealership is called Mission Motorcycles, but is not related with the famous soon-to-be available Mission electric motorcycle. The whole range of Zero’s 2014 bikes were on display, along with some 2013 models, all across the showroom in no particular order. There were also a few parked outside the store, in the street. I just got a feeling that this dealership was selling a lot of Zeros. The salesperson told me that last year they sold more Zero motorcycles than Yamahas. Still, there was no sign outside the store mentioning that this was a Zero dealership.
I can’t say if the dealerships in San Francisco are representative of those in other large American cities. But I was encouraged by my experience, and believe that Zero has a good shot at reaching its objective of selling 2000 electric bikes in 2014. But both manufacturers should make an effort at helping their dealers display their products more effectively, and give them a logo or a sign to hang outside their showroom!