Electric vehicles like the ones Lightning Motorcycles produces need to go farther on a single charge if they want to become a more dependable option for drivers.
Each year, as people work to become less dependent on fossil fuels, the number of all-electric vehicles increases. However, limited range prevents electric vehicles from completely replacing gas-powered ones. Richard Hatfield, head of Lightning Motorcycles, wants to change everything by creating the first all-electric motorcycle that can travel 500 miles on a single charge.
Lightning Motorcycles built its first electric sport bike in 2006 and has been breaking records since. Three years after its first bike, the company broke the world land-speed record for an electric-powered bike. In 2013, the company won Pikes Peak, a 12-mile race climbing almost 5,000 feet. Completing the 500-mile drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a single charge is the next record Lightning has in its sights.
Currently, Tesla holds the record for the longest electric vehicle range among commercially available motorcycles and cars. At an Environmental protection Agency rating of 315 miles, Tesla wouldn’t be able to make the drive. Even a gasoline bike maxes out around 320 miles in one tank. Still, Hatfield has faith. “We see ourselves as following in the footsteps of Tesla, and accomplishing the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles run would show that range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past,” he said in a conversation with Forbes.
To help him get there, Hatfield turned to the Battery Innovation Center in Indiana. This nonprofit works with industry leaders, universities, and government agencies to quickly develop, test, and commercialize batteries. In order to make it to the market, batteries need to be safe, reliable, and lightweight. “We work with companies like Lightning to pair them with cutting-edge energy storage makers to make things like the 500-mile ride possible,” said David Roberts, the company’s president. “We think that with the technology as it stands, right now, the ride is entirely achievable.”
Getting batteries to that point will not be easy, but it’s necessary if vehicles continue looking for greener power sources.