British luxury motoring brand Jaguar is shrugging off its stuffy image, with its venture capital arm Inmotion Ventures injecting funds into Arc, the motorcycle company that has made what it says is the “world’s most advanced electric motorcycle”.
The investment is another step towards electrification for the British automaker, who recently showed off its all-electric i-Pace SUV travelling through the Chunnel on one charge to put to bed concerns of range anxiety.
It makes sense that Jaguar would turn to Arc to reach into the two-wheeled EV market – its founder Mark Truman was previously the head of Jaguar’s cutting edge innovation division, White Space.
The Arc Vector bike, which is being unveiled this week at this year’s EICMA exposition in Milan, would appear to be a direct result of that pedigree.
Truman has a reputation as “purist biker” and has thrown his all into the creation of the high tech electric motorbike, along with a dedicated, visionary team hailing from backgrounds such as Aston Martin and KTM, to Ducati, Triumph, MotoGP and F1.
As Truman says, “At Arc, we have set out to create an electric motorbike with soul, one which thrills riders every bit as much as a high performance internal combustion bike, and which is more inspiring and desirable than any other two-wheel motorcycle on the planet.”
The high tech electric bike sets out to achieve this through its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which makes use of cutting edge haptic technologies including a sensory “intelligent rider” jacket and Heads-Up Display (HUD) helmet to enhance the not only the riding experience but also the vehicle’s safety.
“The sensory experience this machine provides, with its haptic amplifiers and HUD helmet, has never been done before,” says Truman.
Asked if this could be distracting, Truman says the exact opposite.
“The tech frees you and your senses because the distractions have been removed. It allows you to concentrate on the road and your one-ness with the bike, to just enjoy the moment knowing the bike is looking out for you and the information you need is right in front of you,” he says.
Given the hesitance of many an ICE motorcycle rider to go EV – the thrill, throb and noise of the motor are what keep many riders on the road – the Vector could be just the thing to “turn” even the hardiest of ICE bikers.
“Vector isn’t just a motorbike; it’s the world’s first fully-electric café racer, it’s an innovative heads-up display helmet and it’s a sensory riding suit – all working in unison to create an experience package like no other,” says Truman.
“We’ve taken technologies previously unexplored by bike builders to transform the way we ride. Arc Vector satisfies those of us who are rarely satisfied, who are always looking for a different road, a different view. We understand the need to be different, to be better, and challenge the norm.”
At only 220kg it is far lighter than its ICE counterparts, taking advantage of advanced battery technology to deliver almost 200km of range on the highway and 320km on city roads.
Arc also says it can take on ICE superbikes, with acceleration to 100km/hr in 3.1 seconds – although the top speed of almost 200km/hr may leave racers wanting.
Managing director of Jaguar’s Inmotion Ventures, Sebastian Peck, says, “Electric vehicles are pivotal for the future of urban mobility, helping people travel through cities quickly and cleanly as possible.
“We want to make sure that we’re not only changing the way people move but delivering unparalleled outdoor experiences while doing so. With Arc’s technology and vision, the Vector is an incredible development in the next generation of motorcycle travel.”
While together Arc and Jaguar’s efforts to attract bikers over to the EV side are indeed merit-worthy, the high tech electric motorcycle will only be available to a few riders: only 399 will be made in the first year, to be sold with a hefty $US117,000 ($A160,000) price tag.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.