Commuting through the world’s major cities has become a bit of a nightmare, from traffic snarls to pollution. And municipalities are working to do something about it, from instituting taxes on entering cities to outright outlawing internal combustion engines within city limits.
Some see this rapid, legislation-driven shift in urban mobility as a crisis. Others see it as an opportunity. Enter FUELL, a new electric mobility company founded by Erik Buell, a motorcycling racing technology pioneer; Frederic Vasseur, principal at Alfa Romeo Formula 1; and entrepreneur Francois-Xavier Terny. FUELL is one that sees not catastrophe in the urban shift away from fossil fuels but rather dollar signs.
FUELL, likely based upon co-founder Erik Buell’s last name, aims to replace cars and public transportation and reshape what the company calls “macro-mobility.” It aims to do so with its first two products: an eBike called Fluid and an electric motorcycle called Flow.
Fluid, which starts at $3,295 comes in two trim levels. The bottom trim is called Pedelec and has a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The top trim S-Pedelec tops out at 28 miles per hour.
Why the difference? Some U.S. States require motorcycle helmets, registration and insurance on motor vehicles that can reach speeds over 25 miles per hour. So, those looking to skirt motorcycle regulations will want to stick with the slightly slower Pedelec.
With its two 500-Watthour removable batteries, Fluid is capable of a 125-mile range on a single charge and can be recharged from your standard in-home wall socket. It’s driven by a virtually maintenance-free carbon belt and internal hub gear set.
Flow, the electric motorcycle also comes in two flavors either an 11-Watt (125 cubic-centimeter gasoline engine equivalent) or 35-Watt version. A full recharge of the Flow’s batteries can be achieved on a public charger in 30 minutes.
The latter is powerful enough, however, to require a motorcycle license. Since Flow features a proprietary wheel-motor (an electric motor mounted in the wheel), it frees up 13 gallons (50 liters) of internal storage space.
FUELL says both the Fluid and Flow are “infinitely customizable” with upgradable batteries, wheel-motors, and chargers.
Paying For Fuell
For customers not really interested in buying either of these outright, FUELL references being able to lease the vehicles—and even the batteries, in its press release. However, it doesn’t expand on financing details.
If the pricing and range-per-charge figures are indeed accurate, the FUELL products could prove very compelling additions to the e-mobility space. Not only do they look a lot prettier than other eBike and electric motorcycles being offered up, they come in compelling trim and performance levels.
That said, FUELL is still a bit of a gamble. FUELL is not co-founder Erik Buell’s first foray into electric motorcycles. His last electric motorcycle company, Erik Buell Racing, went bankrupt in 2015. There, of course, are lots of explanations for this. The most likely, however, was that Buell was just too early. And, frankly, it still might be.
Internal-combustion-engine-strangling legislation is not yet globally pervasive. It’s currently limited to a few major cities—and implementation is still years off. So, while, yes, the market for eBikes like FUELL’s might one day be strong, it will still have to weather many years of tepid interest.
Hopefully Buell’s investors and co-founders are prepared to happily operate at a loss for a half-decade or more, as they wait for demand for these sorts of electric macro-mobility solutions to grow.