Concept photo of Real Motors electric motorcycle (Photo courtesy of Real Motors)
As electric vehicles are becoming all the rave, South Carolina has become a hotspot for electric vehicle manufacturing companies.
Most people think of EVs as cars. But Real Motors, which has plans to open a facility in Greenville, is working to separate itself from the pack.
“Our launching product is a fully electric motorcycle that is fun to drive and affordable,” Michael Feng, co-owner of Real Motors, said via email. “We are committed to reducing carbon emissions by replacing small- to medium-size gasoline engines with fully electric power systems. … Our goal is to establish ourselves as a prominent player in the South Carolina manufacturing hub and contribute to the growing electric vehicle ecosystem.”
The product is not to be confused with some of the electric bicycles that the public is already used to.
Real Motors is “manufacturing electric motorcycles,” said Eddie Cogdill, S.C. Department of Commerce EV coordinator. “They are going to be a ‘Harley Davidson’ type of build.”
The number of EV owners in South Carolina is growing every day, the most popular option being Tesla.
The question is: Would this be something that electric vehicle owners would be interested in?
The answer isn’t so obvious.
“I want no part of any (electric) motorcycle,” said David Eastman, a Columbia Tesla owner. “I know of a few police departments that use them for specific patrol duties – not chasing down speeders on the interstate – and they seem to like them very much. A friend of mine is a college campus cop, … and he loves his.”
Mark Spurling, a Tesla owner, is more open to the idea.
“Depending on performance numbers, sure,” he said.
Some people are concerned about the commuting factor, saying that in South Carolina not too many people commute to jobs on motorcycles because of the distance.
“I would love to have an EV motorcycle …,” said Tesla owner John Loy. “I personally have 100,000 miles of driven miles in my life, and I love the idea. But it became just too dangerous to use for commuter transportation.”
This is something that Real Motors has to take into consideration.
Many EV owners are worried about outside factors, most notably the infrastructure issue.
Of some 11,000 electric vehicles in the state, there are only 385 charging stations, according to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Fewer than a third of those chargers are in Columbia.
Unfortunately for many owners, the chargers the Midlands does have are not making the cut.
“There just isn’t enough,” said David Lusskin, a Columbia Tesla owner. “For example, there is just one charger in the Whole Foods parking lot. It is a level 2 charger, though, meaning after an hour of charging you can only get about 20 miles. If there is more than one person wanting a charge, you’re going to be waiting a while.”
This doesn’t come without good news, though. Tesla just announced a new Supercharger station coming to downtown Columbia later this year.
With electric motorcycles hitting the road in the near future, many EV owners and prospective buyers believe the infrastructure issue needs to be addressed now.