ZEV: from scooters to motorcycles

ZEV M-13 prototype

ZEV M-13 prototype

ZEV (Z Electric Vehicles), based in Morgantown, West Virginia, has been producing a wide range of electric scooters since 2006. It recently presented its first motorcycle prototype, the M-13.

It might come as a surprise to a lot of people that there is an established manufacturer of electric scooters in the USA. In fact, ZEV claims to be the oldest manufacturer of electric scooters or motorcycles in the world! According to its founder, Darus Zehrbach, ZEV’s production picked at over 900 scooters in 2009, before the recession impacted sales dramatically. Production has since been slowly climbing back. Today, the company has customers in 23 countries, mostly in Europe, Asia and Australia. There are no dealerships in the US, the scooters can be ordered online and ZEV contracts with local dealers for servicing.

ZEV LRC

ZEV LRC

A wide range of 19 electric scooters are available, all powered by oil-cooled all-aluminum hub motors. They are produced in Morgantown from components made in Asia and the US, some of which are designed by ZEV.

ZEV claims to produce the “World’s Fastest and Longest Range Electric Scooters”. The LRC model, a full-fairing scooter, has a top speed of 83 mph (134 km/h) and a range of 140 miles (225 km) at 55 mph (89 km/h), or 80 miles (129 km) at 70 mph (113 km/h). Of course, we cannot confirm these claims, as we have not been able to test this scooter. The motor delivers a continuous power of 12.2 kW with a 20 kW peak power. With the 10 kWh lithium-ion battery, the LCR costs $13,990; it is also available with a 6 kWh battery at $9,100. For 2016, a new version with a 15 kW motor will be available.

ZEV S-Series

ZEV S-Series

For a complete view of the ZEV range: http://zelectricvehicle.com/22.html

It seems like a logical development for ZEV to expand into the electric motorcycle market. The first prototype, the M-13, has ZEV’s trademark hub motor, with 13 kW continuous power and 21 kW peak power. It is equipped with a 8.4 kWh battery, to keep the price down to around $9,500. For now, ZEV is testing different windshields to maximize the range. Zehrbach is also working on another model with a 40 kW motor, for a more distant future.

ZEV M-13 prototype

ZEV M-13 prototype

Is there a market for a 250cc-equivalent electric motorcycle in the US? We know that in Europe the Volta is being introduced right now at a price of €8,990, so ZEV is not alone in this niche. Let’s hope that the M-13 can move rapidly from the prototype stage to production.

Written by
cleanrider.com
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10 comments for this post
  1. Evangelos wrote the 05/09/2015

    Unlike Europe or Asia where people prefer scooters Us of A is a market for more traditional looking motorcycles.
    I believe its a good move for ZEV.

    Reply
  2. yuval Brandstetter MD wrote the 06/09/2015

    A hub motor sounds like a bad idea for a motorcycle. All that pogo-ing needing the whole motorcycle to damp the movement produced not by 10KG wheel, but a 40KG wheel. The scooter is a convenience vehicle, where that may be acceptable. But for a performance vehicle which most motorcyclists are looking for – not appealing

    Reply
    • darus zehrbach wrote the 06/09/2015

      Yuval, It is always interesting to me to read about people’s concerns about a hub motors weight. Yet they never consider what does the wheel for say a Harley or other bike when the weight of the sprocket and the chain are taken into account, a BMW with ring gear and pinion, Gold Wing rear end, etc. Secondly, you are way off on your weight estimate by more than 200%. And the weight of the BMW is more. Hub motors are not that heavy.

      We are dealing here with sub 100 mph bikes that are not intended to be race bikes. The streets are not race tracks where you cross the center line into oncoming traffic and clip the apex. The vast majority of riders never even lean hard over leaving giant “chicken strips” of unused tire. I started road racing in 72. In 43 years I have never seen any of the sport bikes that came into the shop with touch marks on the foot pegs (unless they fell down), a large chicken strips. My ZX has grind marks from cornering on the pegs. Does yours?

      In fact, if I want to play corner games here in West Virginia, I take our T8500 “scooter” with its 13 inch wheels, but huge gumball tires, and hub motor, and go pick duels with the University 250-300, 600 cc sport bikers on the river road. I go inside them and pass on the turns. Working up though a pack of 11 of them 2 weeks ago I went to the front in less than 2 miles. And I am a 68 year old man. One passed me back on a short straight at over 80 mph, but then he had to lay on the brakes into the turn and I passed him on the inside again.

      What is more important for this market is range, efficiency and cost. The hub motors are vastly more efficient than a motor with a belt and chain drive. Our large LRC scooter style bike runs 140 miles at 55 mph on a 10 kw battery. A ZERO can only run 115 miles on a 15.3 kwh battery. So the hub motor allows 22% more range on a 53% smaller battery pack. And the ZEV is $4500 less money. And they both have the same sustained speed.

      Reply
      • Warren wrote the 07/11/2015

        Yes, but hub motors take the brunt of suspension activity. Doesn’t that shorten their lives?

        BTW, the peg feelers on my Victory Hammer are scraped-off a bit.

        Reply
      • Zero Lover wrote the 12/01/2016

        Any videos of these duels you keep winning in your mind? What do you post for people not concerned about your un-sprung weight – but those concerned about your wild claims?

        Reply
  3. ZeroRider wrote the 06/09/2015

    Zev has been respectable in their field for a long time (EV wise) and the scooters with HUB motors I’ve ridden are manageable on a range of road surfaces. I’ll be eager to test and compare, if they make enough to not all be snatched up internationally.

    Reply
    • Albert wrote the 06/09/2015

      “I’ll be eager to test and compare”… Aren’t we all! Why is it so difficult to get to try a ZEV scooter?

      Reply
      • darus zehrbach wrote the 06/09/2015

        If you are a would be buyer, you can fly or drive to the factory, and we pay for the trip if you buy the bike. A fellow just flew in from Oregon and bought an LRC done as a factory custom. $370 airfare. One just came from Tronto. $220 airfare. One just came from London. $870. If you are a serious would be buyer, its a small risk on a major expense.

        We do not have many dealers in the USA. Not for a lack of trying.

        We can find a local customer generally with a bike that can show you their bike also.

        Reply
  4. Panayiotis wrote the 10/11/2015

    G’day Darus,
    Tried emailing an order thru but have not received a reply?
    Could you please give me the details of a dealer in Australia who can help facilitate the purchase of a LRC 15.

    Look forward to a reply,
    Panayioti

    Reply
  5. Michael Brooks wrote the 22/11/2015

    Can you please supply an agent for Zev electric scooters in Australia. Thanks

    Reply
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