Updated: Apr 28
Electric motorcycles and scooters are plug-in electric vehicles with two or three wheels. The electricity is stored on board in a rechargeable battery, which drives one or more electric motors. Electric scooters (as distinct from motorcycles) have a step-through frame.
Most electric motorcycles and scooters as of May 2019 are powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries, though some early models used nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Alternative types of batteries are available. Z Electric Vehicle has pioneered use of a lead/sodium silicate battery (a variation on the classic lead acid battery invented in 1859, still prevalent in automobiles) that compares favorably with lithium batteries in size, weight, and energy capacity, at considerably less cost.
EGen says its lithium-iron phosphate batteries are up to two-thirds lighter than lead acid batteries and offer the best battery performance for electric vehicles.
In 2017, the first vehicle in the US to use the new Lithium Titanium Oxide (LTO) battery non-flammable battery technology is a scooter called The Expresso. This new technology charges a battery in less than 10 minutes and withstands 25,000 charges (the equivalent of 70 years of daily charges). The technology, created by Altairnano, is currently being used in China where over 10,000 urban buses run on these fast charge batteries.
All electric scooters and motorcycles provide for recharging by plugging into ordinary wall outlets, usually taking about eight hours to recharge (i.e. overnight). Some manufacturers have designed in, included, or offer as an accessory, the high-power CHAdeMO level 2 charger, which can charge the batteries up to 95% in an hour.
Manufacturers like Zero Motorcycles and recent entrants to the scooter market Gogoro and Unu have designed machines that allow quick battery swapping, for apartment dwellers who do not have a garage outlet, or for an instant recharge on the go.
Honda has developed an experimental internal combustion/electric hybrid scooter. Yamaha has also developed a hybrid concept motorcycle called Gen-Ryu. It uses a 600cc engine and an additional electric motor.Piaggio MP3 Hybrid uses a 125cc engine and an additional 2.4 kW motor.
There are several experimental prototypes using fuel cell technology. ENV developed by Intelligent Energy is a hydrogen fuel cell prototype. The motorcycle has a range of 100 miles (160 km) and can reach a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).Suzuki has also developed a concept hydrogen fuel cell scooter based on the Suzuki Burgman.Yamaha has created a hydrogen fuel cell prototype called FC-AQEL, which is considered equivalent to a 125cc vehicle.Honda has also developed a hydrogen fuel cell scooter which uses the Honda FC Stack.