After the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for electric vehicles could increase, Energica founder Livia Cevolini believes.
The managing director of the Italian high-performance motorcycle manufacturer expressed optimism, since her EV company based in Modena is still closed by government regulation.
The coronavirus pandemic forced Energica to apply the brakes while producing its battery-powered machines that could reach top speeds of 168 mph.
After being banned from her home in northern Italy, Cevolini shared the future of motorcycling, takeover bids and plans to recharge her company when the COVID-19 crisis subsided.
At a time when her country was particularly hard hit by the corona virus, she offered optimistic thinking.
"I don't want to just look at the negative … maybe there are positive things that come out of this dire crisis," Cevolini told TechCrunch on a video call.
One of them is the greater demand for electric vehicles after the pandemic. Cevolini stressed greater awareness of smog incineration mobility and scientific evidence that air pollution aggravates viruses as factors that could convert more people to electricity.
Reporting has seen many urban areas achieve visibly cleaner air – before taking pictures of world cities with smog and after taking pictures of clear skies since COVID-19 has pushed traffic off the streets.
“Perhaps at the end of this situation we will have a greater awareness of climate change. Then people will be more aware of electricity, ”said Cevolini.
Before the health crisis shut down most of Italy, Energica had already seen greater demand for its high-performance e-motos with a price range of $ 17,000 to $ 23,000. The company, which has a California office and a US general manager (Stefano Benatti), executed more orders than all sales for 2019 in the first two months of 2020, according to Cevolini.
As an EV company, Energica is located in famous Italian engine portal and positions itself similar to its neighbors – Lamborghini, Ducati, Ferrari – and offers a fusion of elegant design and elite performance.
The company is also one of the few e-motorcycle companies that receives technical tips from the competition. In 2018, Energica was named the only manufacturer of the MotoE Worldup – an electric version of MotoGP motorcycle racing. MotoE riders use the company's EGO model as the base bike.
According to Cevolini, the technology is being transferred from the line to series models. "The goal is to use races to test in extreme but safe conditions and then we put things on the road bikes," she said.
Energica attributes the application of racing technology to series e-motos for part of the increased order flow it saw earlier this year. The company reduced the weight of its production line by 5% in 2020 and increased its reach by 60%, based on adjustments it had taken over from MotoE.
The track competition is a secondary arena for Energica. The main venue is an increasingly crowded e-motorcycle market that is certain to experience declining demand given the economic impact of COVID-19.
Harley's entry followed several failed launches of electric motorcycles – including Mission Motors – and got to the point of being on the market with existing EV companies like California's startup Zero with 200 dealers worldwide.
Energica had key e-motorcycle specifications such as performance, charging times and range had advantages with its 145-horsepower machines that can be charged in 20 minutes for maximum ranges from 140 to 250 miles .
But the competition is approaching some figures from the Italian EV manufacturer. In 2019, Zero launched its high-performance SR / F with 110 hp and a top speed of 120 mph. And the entire motorcycle industry – gas and electricity – could be exposed to the competitive pressure of the new EV market participant Damon Motors. The Vancouver-based startup unveiled its $ 200,000 hypersport this year, which features proprietary safety and ergonomics technology for adjustable driving positions and blind spot detection.
In addition to fierce competition in the e-moto sector, the number of uncertainties surrounding the buying appetite for motorcycles is growing, which could continue until 2020 – and beyond – given the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world.
In the United States, sales of new motorcycles have not weathered the last recession very well, declining 50% in 2008 and stagnating since then. In addition to Energica, other manufacturers such as Harley Davidson also had to stop production due to the corona virus.
Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica, believes that her company has an edge over its e-moto competitors and has the ability to recover as soon as it restarts.
It marks the manufacturer's race connection as something that will continue to give Energica a head start in product development. Speaking to Zero Motorcycles, she said in particular: "We are in a different category," she said. "You have less power, less range, and less quick-charge capability."
Energica has created another source of income through a joint venture to provide Dell & Orto, a global supplier of battery, computer and drive technology to the scooter market.
As more of the major gas motorcycle companies enter the EV market, Cevolini is open to a merger or acquisition, but only on their terms.
"If someone comes to me with a real suggestion … that you can talk to us if we want to expand our business and our company and not destroy it," she said. "Otherwise we prefer to go our own way."
Energica is ready to resume production and has made arrangements for adjustments – for example, for safe and socially distant operations open up again.
"We are ready to fulfill the orders we received before the shutdown and accept more," she said.
If Energica can switch the power on again, Cevolini suspects that her niche market for motorcycle fans will be happy to roll.
“Our customers tell us that they are just waiting to drive again. And as soon as they can drive again, they will drive again, ”she said.