For years, the mantra at Kawasaki has been “Go Green.” Now the company is living up to those words as they are set to unveil a new, electric powered sportbike.
Due to a recent major technological breakthrough, the bike, dubbed the ZX-1EV, may be available in dealerships as early as 2013.
The problem for electric vehicles has always been the weight and storage capacity of the batteries. The problem has now been attacked thru a joint effort between Kawasaki Motor Corp and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, a global conglomerate that produces trains, aircraft, planes, and wind turbines.
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Interestingly, a large portion of the development has been recently performed in secret at US drag strips.
“The technological challenges that face an electric-driven motorcycle are two-fold,” explained Kawasaki’s chief technological officer Kobayashi Fujiamama. “First, the motors provide instantaneous torque which is problematic for the drivetrain and the handling of the vehicle. Secondly, high-load short bursts are the single largest factor negatively effecting battery efficiency and capacity. Drag strips provide a great laboratory for addressing both of these issues.”
Kawasaki has a rich history in drag racing with Rickey Gadson being their spokes model for many years. The technical connection between Kawasaki and the drag racing world has been Brock Davidson, owner of Brock’s Performance, a Dayton, Ohio-based manufacturer of high-performance components for motorcycles.
“I met the Kawasaki engineers during the launch of their ZX-14 a few years ago,” said Davidson. “They were impressed with the clutch management techniques and chassis flex vs. acceleration calculations through applied mathematics that we developed for use in drag racing, so they asked me to help consult on the new bike.”
The ZX-1EV has impressive stats: it has about the same general physical size and wheelbase as a ZX-14R, yet still tips the scales at just under 500 lbs., fully charged. However, the coreless AC/DC step motor produces about 240 kilowatts of power or approximately 323 horsepower at the rear wheel.
This type of power will translate into unrestricted standing start 1 mile trap speeds in excess of 220 MPH. A transvector diode derestriction kit will be available through Brock's Performance.
“This thing is going to be an absolute stunner,” said Davidson. “People talk about a Hayabusa or ZX-14R killer. This beauty is going to taze anything in its path. The ‘Green Goblin’ will fundamentally change the face of drag racing as we know it in a few years.”
Simultaneous to the development of the bike is the development of a charging station run by wind turbines.
“There have been several breakthroughs in this area,” continued Fujiamama. “First the battery technology advanced through a combination of lithium and prefabulated unobtainium research which reduced the size and weight of the batteries. Also, wind turbines have gained in efficiency after we partnered with BST to construct carbon-fiber blades. They are lighter and stronger than the blades we have been using, and we were frankly shocked at the performance gains.”
Top secret drag strip test facility north of Suzuka, Japan. This image could be comonplace at NHRA sanctioned tracks in the United States within 5 years.
Gadson has been tapped as the test rider for the drag strip-based development. While he couldn’t go into many of the confidential details of the bike, he did give some riding impressions.
“First I didn’t know what to make of it,” said Gadson. “It is so quiet, I spooled it up and didn’t think it was going to do anything. I slid the clutch and it stood up like I’ve never seen. The second time I was really scared; for real, I thought I was going to wet myself, but then I thought that might be sort of dangerous with all of those big-ass batteries so close to my junk, you know? I have never been scared to turn a throttle before, but I was scared.”
The silence of the electric powertrain is thought to be a potential drawback to the market so Kawasaki partnered with Bose to develop and on-board sound system which will mimic motorcycle exhausts sounds and will be tied to both engine RPM and load.
The sound profiles have already expanded beyond traditional motorcycle exhausts. Users will be able to load in audio files of any Brock’s Performance exhausts including Alien Heads and Megaphones, but they will also offer sound profiles of a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Maserati Gran Turismo MC and a 1968 Chevy Malibu SS 396 convertible rollin’ on twenty-six inch rims.
Purchase your own personal Wind Turbine
Click here for more information on the types for personal use.
The portable design, using super light composite material, the total weight of 2500 g, the structure is simple, 3 minutes can assembly, take up the space is small, easy to take along. The machine head can be arbitrary rotated with anti-winding devices.
Look for the ZX-1EV to pop up at dragstrips across the country in the coming months. While the price has not been set, it is thought to be in the very reasonable $12K range. While the wind turbine charging system is not included, a toaster insert is included with purchase. $20 deposits are being accepted… see your genuine Kawasaki retailer for a free product DVD.
Click here for a video of the 2013 Kawasaki ZX-1EV prototype
being field tested by legendary music mogul, Jay-Z.